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An Omicron booster jab is on the way in the UK – here’s everything you need to know

It’s the first official vaccine that targets both the recent strain and older variants of the virus

Written by
Faima Bakar

The UK has become the first to offer a Covid vaccine that specifically targets the Omicron strain. Moderna will be providing this new booster jab that offers protection for both the original virus and its highly transmissible Omicron variant. At the moment, Omicron is leading the current wave of Covid infections in the UK.

From next month, the autumn booster drive is set to start, offering this new inoculation to better protect people from infections. The details of how many jabs are to be offered and who gets them are yet to be announced, but it’s expected that the over-50s and those who are immunocompromised will be given the booster first.

Whether Moderna, Pfizer or AstraZeneca, the current vaccines, offer protection from the original strain of Covid which began circulating at the end of 2019. Since then, other variants have emerged and spread across the globe. Omicron has been one of the more dominant strains, and the updated Moderna jab has proven to be successful in fighting it. 

Moderna trialled their treatment on 437 people and found that it was safe and provided better immunisation against the virus than its earlier counterpart. Levels of antibodies that were able to fight Omicron were found to be eight times higher with this one than when given Moderna’s previous jab. 

The UK’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency has approved the vaccine and said this new version is safe for use in adults. Dr June Raine, the regulator’s chief executive, said: ‘The first generation of Covid-19 vaccines being used in the UK continue to provide important protection against the disease and save lives. What this bivalent vaccine gives us is a sharpened tool in our armoury to help protect us against this disease as the virus continues to evolve.’

From next month, the following groups are set to be offered a newer booster: 

    • Those aged 50 and over
    • Health and social care staff
    • Carers over the age of 16
    • Those aged five and older whose health puts them at greater risk, also including pregnant women
    • Those aged five and older who share a house with somebody with a weakened immune system

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