A vaccination designed to target two strains of Covid will be offered as part of the booster program this autumn in the United Kingdom after the new shot was approved by British regulators.
The booster was manufactured by American firm Moderna and attacks not only the original Covid strain but also specifically targets the Omicron variant, which fueled a wave of the virus last winter.
The United Kingdom is the first country to approve the bivalent vaccination, known as the “Spikevax bivalent Original/Omicron.” It gives the green light for its use as a booster for anyone over the age of 18.
The vaccine will be used in the planned autumn booster program, which is expected to begin in September. Health experts in the UK fear that the autumn may be a difficult period for the country’s national health services, called the NHS, with an expected surge in respiratory diseases, including Covid and the flu.
According to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency’s (MHRA) chief executive Dr. June Raine, clinical trials showed that the bivalent vaccine provided a strong immune response to the Omicron variant as well as the original 2020 strain.
The autumn Covid booster program is focused on protecting those at increased risk from the disease, including people over the age of 50 and residents in care homes for older adults. About 26 million people are expected to be eligible for the shot in Britain.
Analysts say that the approach is part of the government’s effort to move away from an emergency response to Covid in favor of a more targeted stance.
Experts say that there is a lack of certainties that were had in early 2020 regarding which way to go with the vaccines, not least how to keep up with the evolution of the variants. They have suggested that the vaccination might not offer huge gains in the fight against the latest sub-variants, but that any booster is better than nothing.