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UK first country to approve new Moderna vaccine targeting original strain and Omicron variant

A “next-generation” Covid-19 booster jab – the first to target two strains of the virus – has been approved for adults in the UK.

Moderna’s vaccine, which targets both the original Covid strain and the Omicron variant, has been approved by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

Known as mRNA-1273.214, the dose is an updated version of the Moderna vaccine which is already in use for first, second, and booster doses.

The UK is the first nation to approve the jab, and it could be used in the booster programme.

MHRA chief executive, Dr. June Raine, described the new booster as “a sharpened tool in our armoury” to protect the UK against Covid-19.

Throughout rigorous clinical trials the jab has “consistently shown a superior breadth of immune response” said Stephane Bancel, chief executive officer at Moderna.

He added that the vaccine would be integral to protecting people during the winter months and that the side effects are mild and are similar to the Moderna booster dose.

Professor Sir Munir Pirmohamed, chair of the Commission on Human Medicines, an independent body sponsored by the DHSC to advise ministers on the safety, efficacy, and quality of medicinal products, said the vaccine was safe to use.

Prof Pirmohamed said: “The Commission on Human Medicines and its Covid-19 Vaccines Expert Working Group has independently reviewed the data on safety, quality and effectiveness and agrees with the MHRA’s decision.”
He added that since coronavirus is “continually evolving in order to evade the immunity provided by vaccines” constant updates to the jabs are needed.

Prof Pirmohamed added that a recent paper in the Lancet medical journal suggested that coronavirus vaccines have prevented up to 20 million deaths in their first year of use.

Moderna said it has also completed its applications for regulatory approval of the booster in Australia, Canada, and the EU.