The UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has approved an updated version of the covid-19 vaccine manufactured by Moderna that also targets the omicron variant. It is intended to serve as a booster dose for adults.
The approval by the MHRA of a new vaccine from Moderna that protects against the Omicron variant is excellent news, given that this will allow the original vaccine, based on the original Wuhan variant, to be replaced by a vaccine that protects against a variant much closer to the one that now predominates, not only in the UK, but in much of the world.
This new generation of vaccines will allow more realistic protection against severe disease and possibly infection, and will be a quantum leap in our containment of ongoing transmission.
This news is long awaited and represents the beginning of the approvals that will follow one after the other over the coming months for the bivalent vaccines (original + omicron) that the companies, both Pfizer and Moderna, have developed. This is good news because of the need to update the vaccine that we have had up to now for its application in vulnerable populations, both in terms of age and immunological status, and to allow them to renew and update their immunity against a more up-to-date variant than the one contained in the current vaccine.
This vaccination will allow this group of individuals to safely develop more effective antibodies against the omicron variant and will further enhance cell-mediated immunity against SARS-CoV-2. With the application of this updated vaccine, the vulnerable population group will be able to cope with the coming waves of infection in a calmer and safer way.
President of the Spanish Society of Immunology (SEI) and former secretary of the Spanish Society of Transplantation (SET)
This is Moderna's bivalent vaccine, which targets two spicule proteins: the original Wuhan virus and Omicron (the BA.1 lineage). Updates of the vaccine are welcome news and, in principle, will generate more potent and broader immunity than the current univalent format.
Previous studies even suggest a good response of this new vaccine against the most prevalent lineage, currently BA.5. However, the development of new variants by the virus is always ahead of vaccine updates, and it is possible that by the time vaccination begins, a new lineage will have emerged.