A COVID-19 booster that’s targeted to the Omicron variant will be available soon — and it’s already been approved in Britain.

The U.K. Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency was the first to give the go-ahead for the vaccine that was designed to fight both the original COVID virus from 2020 and the omicron BA.1 variant, which began spreading last November, the Associated Press reported.

Health officials in the United Kingdom have not decided whether the vaccine is part of its fall COVID strategy, though British officials have said everyone 50 and over will be able get a fall booster shot.

“What this (combination) vaccine gives us is a sharpened tool in our armory to help protect us against this disease as the virus continues to evolve,” Dr. June Raine, the head of Britain’s health care and medicines regulator, told the AP.

This vaccine’s side effects are said to be typically “mild and self-resolving,” similar to the earlier Moderna booster.

This update will have an “important role” in protecting people from COVID-19 this winter, Stephane Bancel, Moderna’s chief executive said in a company statement.

Having a targeted booster is a similar approach to what public health officials have done in years past with influenza, with an adjusted vaccine that targets up to four strains of the flu.

About 70% of most recent COVID virus samples collected arise from the omicron subvariant BA.5, according to the World Health Organization.

Other countries may follow Britain, including the United States. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said in June that updated boosters needed to have protection against omicron variants, the AP reported.

In Germany, the health minister said on Friday that the European Medicines Agency may clear the new vaccine in September, the AP said.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on COVID-19.

SOURCE: Associated Press

Source: HealthDay

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