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The UK’s national medicines regulatory agency, MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency), has approved the use of the first coronavirus vaccine that is effective against two different strains of the virus (it’s a bivalent vaccine). In the UK, the vaccine can be used as a booster dose for all adults, although the decision on its effective use in national vaccination strategies will lie with the Vaccination and Immunization Commission (JCVI).
Moderna’s new vaccine is based on messenger RNA and has been shown in studies to be effective against the “original” coronavirus and against the variant BA.1, the so-called omicron variant, on which the large number of infections since last winter has depended. Half of each dose of the vaccine works against the ‘original’ coronavirus, with the other half targeting the BA.1 variant. However, the data collected so far seems to show that the new vaccine is effective, according to the MHRA, that good protection is also guaranteed against the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants that have been widespread in recent months.
Multipurpose vaccines effective against multiple coronavirus variants are considered one of the most promising developments in global pandemic strategies. Pfizer and BioNTech are also working on a bivalent vaccine and in July they applied to the EMA (European Medicines Agency) for approval to use a bivalent vaccine that is also effective against the BA.1 variant. Moderna also applied to the EMA for approval to use its bivalent vaccine.
– Also read: Will we ever have universal coronavirus vaccines?