UK health chiefs have confirmed that a new booster jab that is ‘Omicron specific’ will be used as part of the autumn covid vaccine rollout.
Their announcement came just hours after the UK became the first country in the world to approve the new Moderna bivalent jab.
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Around 26 million people, including the over 50’s, vulnerable Britons and healthcare workers are in line to potentially receive the new jab starting from next month.
Mail Online reports: It is a half and half vaccine, made from the genetic material of the original Wuhan Covid strain and Omicron.
This differs from the current generation of jabs that are based solely on the first strain and are less effective against newer variants.
Trial results showed the new vaccine boosted antibody levels against Omicron eightfold. This should mean people who are vulnerable are even less likely to get seriously ill or die from the already-mild variant.
UK regulators said the jab was another ‘tool in the armoury’ against the ‘continually-evolving’ virus.
he Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) tonight confirmed the new vaccine would be included in the autumn rollout.
However, the panel said other boosters will also be available for use and urged Britons to take-up any vaccine offered as they all still granted good protection.
Health bosses are bracing for one of the harshest winters on record for the NHS, with a triple-whammy of Covid, flu and the cost of living crisis expected to cause a sharp rise in excess admissions.
While designed to target original Omicron variant BA.1, which ripped through the country at the end of 2021, Modern’s jab is also effective against BA.4 and BA.5.
These newer subvariants were behind a recent meteoric spike in Covid cases, which is now in retreat.
In its announcement today, the JCVI has recommended the new vaccine be included in the booster rollout, which is due to start on September 1.
However, the group said its still unclear how much better it will perform in the real world compared to the tried and tested vaccines currently being doled out.
It said getting any booster was a priority.
Professor Wei Shen Lim, the JCVI’s chair of Covid 19 immunisation, said: ‘It is important that everyone who is eligible takes up a booster this autumn, whichever vaccine is on offer.
‘This will increase your protection against being severely ill from COVID-19 as we move into winter.’
The autumn campaign include the old Moderna jab and the Pfizer booster.
The Novavax jab will also be offered to those who cannot take an mRNA vaccine for health reasons.
Vulnerable under 17s will only be offered the Pfizer booster.
UK Health Security Agency’s head of immunisation, Dr Mary Ramsay, said although Covid was currently on the retreat, experts are predicting a resurgence this winter.
‘Although cases of COVID-19 are relatively low at present, we are expecting to see the virus circulating more widely during the winter months,’ she said.
‘The booster is being offered to those at higher risk of severe illness and by taking up the booster vaccine this autumn, you will increase your protection ahead of the winter months, when respiratory viruses are typically at their peak.’
Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay said the Government has accepted the JCVI’s recommendations and will start rolling out jabs from next month.
‘We will begin to contact those eligible from early September, and I would urge people to come forward as soon as they are invited so together we can keep each safe and protect our NHS,’ he said.
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