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BSI response to MHRA approving Moderna’s bivalent COVID-19 vaccine

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The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has announced that they have approved for the use of an updated version of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.  This updated vaccine is a bivalent vaccine which targets two SARS-CoV-2 variants - the original strain and the Omicron strain (which is currently circulating in the UK).  In response, the British Society for Immunology has put out the following statement. 

Professor Deborah Dunn-Walters, Chair of the British Society for Immunology COVID-19 and Immunology Taskforce and Professor of Immunology at the University of Surrey, said:

“COVID-19 vaccines have had a huge positive impact on our ability to manage the pandemic and return to normal life.  However, as we’ve seen, new strains of SARS-CoV-2 continue to emerge which means it’s important that we continue to develop the COVID-19 vaccines to optimise protection against new strains. 

“We welcome today’s news that the MHRA has approved the updated version of the Moderna bivalent booster COVID-19 vaccine, which targets both the original SARS-CoV-2 virus and the Omicron strain, which is the leading strain currently circulating in our communities.  The MHRA will have carefully analysed the data to ensure this update to the Moderna vaccine is both safe and effective.

“The original strain and the Omicron strain are quite different from each other.  By keeping both in the new vaccine it is hoped to provide immunity against any future new strains related to the original as well as protecting against any new strains related to Omicron.

“It is important to know that although the new bivalent vaccine booster may provide a slightly increased level of protection against current known virus strains compared with the original, this difference is small compared with the overall benefit from any type of booster.  It is expected that circulating virus levels will rise in winter so it is important to take up the offer of a booster if you are offered it.”

You can read the full press release from the MHRA here