A new version of the Moderna ‘bivalent' COVID-19 vaccine that targets both the original strain of SARS-CoV-2 and the Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants has today been authorised for use in the UK by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
This adapted COVID-19 vaccine targets both the original strain of the virus and the Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants.
The new vaccine can be used as a booster in people aged 12 and above, and is the second bivalent vaccine from Moderna to be authorised by the MHRA after it was found to meet the UK regulator's standards of safety, quality and effectiveness. The decision was based on the advice of the Commission on Human Medicines, and has been taken after a careful review of the evidence.
Any future use of the vaccine will be informed by advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).
In each dose, half of the vaccine targets the original virus strain and the other half targets Omicron (BA.4 and BA.5). All authorised COVID-19 booster vaccines are designed to improve the protection given by earlier vaccine doses, and help give longer-term protection against getting seriously ill from COVID-19.
The COVID-19 autumn booster programme ended on 12 February and saw nearly 17.5 million people receive their booster jab. Those eligible included people aged 50 and over, residents in care homes, people aged 5 and over in an at-risk group, and health and social care staff. Nearly 75,000 came forward in the final week of the programme, responding to a call from the Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty, to come forward to get the protection they needed from serious illness.
Overall, 64.9% of people aged 50 and over took up the offer of an autumn booster. Take up was highest among the 75 to under 80s (82.8%), over 80s (82.7%), and 70 to under 75s (79.2%).
More than 86 million COVID-19 vaccination appointments have been booked using the NHS's national online booking system since its launch.