Uk News Why Moderna's new Covid booster jab is the best bet to fight surging BA.4 and BA.5 variants United Kingdom news
PremierLeague-News.Com - A new study finds that Moderna's new jab gives good protection against BA.4 and BA.5
PremierLeague-News.Com - Breaking Sport Transfer News ! Covid cases have soared by 75 per cent this month, to break through the 200,000-a-day mark – driven by the highly contagious Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants.These have ousted BA.2 Omicron to become the dominant sub-lineages in the UK, pushing symptomatic daily infections up from 114,030 on Wednesday June 1 to 200,121 on Wednesday – the highest level they have been for all but eight weeks of the pandemic so far.Scientists are concerned because the early indications are that BA.4 and BA.5 are naturally more contagious than BA.2, as well as being more severe and better at evading immunity built up from prior infection and vaccination.But the US vaccine company Moderna has now revealed its new “bivalent” booster jab, which targets both Omicron and the original Covid strain, provides good protection against BA.5 and BA.5.These latest findings build on previous research, published this month, which found that the jab provided good protection against the first version of Omicron, BA.1.At that point, the researchers said the booster’s effect on the later Omicron subvariants – BA.4 and BA.5 – was still to be determined, and now it has, although as is usual with evolving viruses, further research is needed to be absolutely sure.How good is the protection?“We think this is a strong, powerful antibody response, that is probably long lasting,” said Moderna’s chief medical officer Dr Paul Burton.The latest clinical data found that a dose of the booster – known as “214” – “elicited potent neutralising antibody responses against the Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 in all participants, regardless of prior infection”.The jab boosted “neutralising titers” – specialised antibodies that bind pathogens and prevent them from spreading infection – against BA.4/BA.5 by 5.4-fold, on average (including people who both had and hadn’t been infected before) – and by 6.3-fold among those who hadn’t had Covid.However, while the booster jab gave good protection against BA.4 and BA.5, it is not as good as that provided against BA.1, according to the research.“Neutralising titers against BA.4/BA.5 were approximately three-fold lower than previously reported neutralizing titers against BA.1,” the study found.But protection against BA.4 and BA.5 is still good and better than had been expected, said Dr Burton.“Boosting or primary vaccination with this new vaccine really could be a turning point in our fight against the virus.”“If we could roll out for late summer or early autumn, boosting, with this vaccine, I think it really would allow us for the first time to get to get ahead of this virus.
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.”“The data suggest that the bivalent booster might confer greater protection against the BA.4 and BA.5 omicron strains than readministering the original vaccine to increase protection across the population,” she said.When might the booster become available in the UK?Nothing is certain yet but it could well be as soon as late August or September, in time for the autumn booster campaign.Moderna has presented its findings on the safety and efficacy of “214” to regulators, including the MHRA in the UK, before a formal application for approval “within days”.“We will submit these data to regulators urgently and are preparing to supply our next generation bivalent booster starting in August, ahead of a potential rise in SARS-CoV-2 infections due to Omicron subvariants in the early fall,” said Moderna’s chief executive Stéphane Bancel.Dr Paul Burton confirmed the company is in the midst of discussions with the Government about supplying the vaccine.He pointed out that it has “hundreds of millions” of doses ready to go and is ready to supply the large quantities to the UK – with millions of more set to become available in the coming months.Furthermore, the Government announced on Tuesday that Moderna would be setting up a vaccine research and development centre and a vaccine manufacturing facility in the UK. These will not be up and running in time to make the new booster but they underline the close relationship between the Government and the company.On top of that, the contracts the Government has signed with Moderna (and Pfizer) contain flexibilities to ensure that the UK can receive any updated vaccine being produced, such as a vaccine specifically formulated to respond to variants such as Omicron.While the Vaccine Taskforce (VTF) has shown that it works quickly – following the emergence of the Omicron variant last autumn, it agreed new contracts with Pfizer and Moderna, for further supply for 2022 and 2023, in the event it is needed.How does the Moderna booster’s effectiveness compare with previous vaccines?“At present, there are no data available on vaccine effectiveness against different clinical outcomes for Omicron sub-lineages BA.4 and BA.5,” the EU’s European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control said last week – so it’s not possible to compare the performance of the new vaccine against BA.4 and BA.5 with previous jabs.However, it is known that the protection existing jabs give against catching Covid is much lower for BA.4 and BA.5 than it is for BA.1, which in turn, is lower than for previous variants Alpha and Delta.And it seems that the protection given by the new Moderna jab is broadly comparable to that given by previous vaccines to previous variants – indicating it gives much better protection against BA.4 and BA.5.Previous studies have shown that, two weeks after the second jab (in its current form), a person had 1,000 units of neutralising geometric mean titers (GMT) against the Wuhan strain. This compares to 800 units against Delta.Meanwhile, the latest findings found that, a month after the injection, the level was 941 units – with anything over 400 regarded as giving good protection.Who would be eligible for the Moderna booster in the UK?As things stand, vaccination advisers (the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, or JCVI) in the UK has said that over 65s, frontline health and social care workers, older care home residents and adults aged 16 to 64 years “in a clinical risk group” should be invited for an autumn booster. But not all over-fifties, or even younger age groups, as had been previously considered.Dr Burton said that restricting the booster age to 65 will leave “a lot of vulnerable people unprotected”.Asked about whether the eligibility criteria for the booster programme should be reassessed, he said: “I think what we’re going to be looking at come the autumn is a lot of under-vaccinated, under-protected people because maybe they got boosted last November, December, for the holidays, but they’re now going to have a long interval where they haven’t had a booster.More from ScienceLong Covid is real, but we need to stop scaring people by saying it's more common than it is22 June, 2022UK Covid cases break through 200,000-a-day barrier for first time since April22 June, 2022Daily Covid infections will exceed 200,000 by weekend as cases jump 70 per cent, expert says21 June, 2022“So people are going to be under-vaccinated and under-protected and I think restricting the booster age to 65 will leave a lot of other vulnerable people unprotected.“Clearly, governments will have to make their own public health decisions, but my sense is that actually for this upcoming booster season, a broader opportunity to vaccinate everybody, including children, is probably warranted to for consideration.“We’ve talked with public health bodies in the UK, I think there is definite interest in 214 (the variant vaccine).“I think the waning of immunity that we see with original vaccines is clear and those bodies understand that the virus is mutating quickly.”Although the JCVI has no immediate plans to change the recommended groups eligible for an autumn booster, Professor Wei Shen Lim, the committee’s Chair of COVID-19 vaccination, said things may change as new evidence emerges, when its position was announced in May.“As we continue to review the scientific data, further updates to this advice will follow,” he said.
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