European health body endorses Omicron-adapted COVID-19 vaccines

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) recommended the use of two vaccines adapted against the Omicron variant of Covid-19 from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna.

The so-called Comirnaty Original/Omicron BA.1 (from Pfizer/BioNTech) and Spikevax Bivalent Original/Omicron BA.1 (from Moderna) will now be sent to the European Commission for approval, after which the vaccines can be used for people aged 12 years and above who have received at least primary vaccination against the virus, reports Xinhua news agency.

According to the EMA, studies showed that the vaccines can trigger strong immune responses against Omicron BA.1 and the original Covid-19 strain in people previously vaccinated.

Side effects observed with the adapted vaccines were comparable to those seen with the original ones and were typically mild and short-lived.

“As the pandemic evolves, the EU’s strategy is to have a broad range of adapted vaccines that target different variants so member states have a plurality of options to meet their needs when they design their vaccination strategies.

“This is a key element in the overall strategy to combat the pandemic as it is not possible to predict how the virus will evolve in the future and which variants will be circulating this winter,” the EMA said.

Other adapted vaccines which are supposed to protect better against other variants, such as the Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5, are currently under review by the EMA.

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