Medical practitioners and health workers continue to work tirelessly and provide services to Covid-19 patients. Amidst the continuous effort to figure out substantial preventative measures, the pharmaceutical company (Moderna) have developed a new Moderna vaccine that could be used as a booster shot. Moreover, after conducting verifiable research, ATAGI ( Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation) recommended the new vaccine’s use in Australia.
After much consideration, Australia’s federal government approved the new Covid-19 vaccine; the vaccine targets two coronavirus variants of concern precisely, including the original Omicron strain. Health Minister Mark Butler stated that the government had approved ATAGI’s recommendation of using the new Moderna Vaccine as a booster shot for people who are 18 years and above.
It’s remarkable because a multi-strain Covid vaccine (also known as a bivalent vaccine) has been approved in Australia for the first time. However, the new booster shot is already being administered in other countries like the United Kingdom and Canada.
It is also noteworthy that previously approved vaccines singularly target the original Wuhan strain of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. On the contrary, the bivalent vaccine also targets both the SARS-CoV-2 strain and the original Omicron BA.1 strain. Finally, Mr Butler pointed out that the new vaccine is instrumental in indicating how mRNA vaccines could be pitted against dominant variants and subvariants.
However, before making it publicly available at respective medical facilities, first vaccine doses will go through batch testing by the Therapeutic Goods Administrator( Australia’s medical regulator). Consequently, they will be introduced into the rollout as medical facilities have already exhausted Moderna’s existing vaccine stocks.
Is it effective?
The vaccines already being administered in Australia have proven to be effective in protecting people from severe illness from Omicron subvariants infections. Meanwhile, ATAGI discovered that Moderna’s bivalent shot improves the body’s immune response. Besides, it is crucial to remember that all vaccine jabs provide substantial protection against omicron subvariant infections.
Infectious disease physician and microbiologist Paul Griffin(University of Queensland) stated that the approval of the bivalent vaccine does not negate the effectiveness of other vaccines. Additionally, he said that the virus would continue to change and mutate; hence vaccines need to be updated and developed accordingly.
Infectious diseases expert Robert Booy indicated that according to lab data bivalent vaccine is effective in fighting against all Omicron variants. However, it is too soon to determine the efficacy rate of the new vaccine, and it would require studying thousands of people after getting the vaccine. Therefore, relying on immunogenicity and antibody production is vital for medical practitioners and vaccine administrators.
Furthermore, he added that neutralising antibodies with the vaccine is a protective measure and effective in fighting Omicron strains BA.4 and BA.5. Nonetheless, it is good to have the new vaccine, which could also be used as a fifth shot in the future.
Dr Griffin suggested that the new Moderna booster shot could be an excellent preventative cross-protection against new emerging Covid variants.