Expert comment - UK approves dual-strain COVID-19 vaccine

The UK has become the first country to approve a vaccine which tackles both the original COVID-19 virus and the newer Omicron variant.
Vaccine vials. Credit: Canva

The UK's Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has approved a booster vaccine made by Moderna which targets two COVID-19 variants, known as a bivalent vaccine. Following clinical trial data that showed it triggers a strong immune response against both strains, the vaccine was found to meet the UK regulator's standards for safety, quality and effectiveness. Vaccine expert, Professor Beate Kampmann reacts to this announcement.

Professor Beate Kampmann, Director of the Vaccine Centre at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), said: “The need for continued vaccination is evident given that, according to the latest ONS survey, one in 25 people are still testing positive for COVID-19 in England. The positive news is that all the vaccines have been proved to be successful at preventing serious illness, no matter which variants.

“We still don’t have the tools to predict exactly what the virus is going to do next, or how well transmission will be prevented by vaccination. This new ‘dual-strain’ vaccine is potentially good news to help bring case numbers down. However, we shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves, as there are now a wide range of different sub-variants of Omicron. While this vaccine primarily targets the BA.1 variant, we still need better protection against other variants such as BA.4 and 5.

“It is important for people to take up the booster when they are offered it, plus the flu vaccine which will no doubt occupy our minds in the coming months.”

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