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Moderna Covid booster targeting the Omicron variant approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration

Australia’s medical regulator has given the green light to a Covid vaccine targeting the Omicron variant.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration has granted provisional approval to Moderna’s bivalent Covid vaccine, the first of its kind in Australia.

The bivalent vaccine – a vaccine that stimulates an immune response against two different viruses – will fight both the original Covid variant and the Omicron strain.

The vaccine is approved for booster vaccination in persons over 18 years of age and for administration at least three months after the first two doses or a previous booster vaccination.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration has granted provisional approval for Moderna's bivalent Covid vaccine for use in Australia

The Therapeutic Goods Administration has granted provisional approval for Moderna’s bivalent Covid vaccine for use in Australia

Final approval for the new vaccine has yet to be granted by the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation.

It comes as Australia’s leading scientific organization called for a boost in virus research and vaccine manufacturing capacity to future-proof the country against pandemics.

According to the CSIRO report, diseases like Covid that spread from animals to humans — zoonotic viruses — are the most likely cause of future pandemics.

As deadly outbreaks become more frequent, coronaviruses such as SARS-CoV-2, which caused Covid-19, will be among the greatest threats to humans.

It outlined 20 recommendations for what Australia needs to do to strengthen pandemic preparedness, building on the Covid experience.

Recommendations included improving research into five virus families that have the greatest potential to become future pandemics.

The scientists also recognized the need to diversify the types of vaccines produced in Australia in order to be better prepared.

“The lack of manufacturing capacity for various vaccine technologies reduces Australia’s ability to produce vaccines for an emerging viral threat on land,” the report said.

People are seen receiving a Covid vaccine at a pop-up drive-through vaccination clinic at Belmore Oval in Sydney on Friday September 17, 2021

People are seen receiving a Covid vaccine at a pop-up drive-through vaccination clinic at Belmore Oval in Sydney on Friday September 17, 2021

“Australian companies face obstacles such as high input costs and a small population for enrollment in clinical trials.”

In Australia so far, Covid has caused a loss of $144 billion in economic output and caused the deaths of more than 13,500 people.

The CSIRO report also called for an expansion of screening for commercially available therapeutic antiviral drugs that could be used as treatments and the creation of a central database of therapeutics.

The recommendations in the report follow discussions with more than 140 experts from industry, research and government sectors.

The report’s findings also identified inconsistencies with diagnostic requirements that had to be diversified due to the increased demands placed on laboratories during pandemics.

A lack of national coordination in genome analysis was also noted, with calls for the establishment of a national agency as well as the development of national data standards.

People receive a dose of Covid-19 vaccine in a car at Australia's first drive-through vaccination center in the Melbourne suburb of Melton on August 10, 2021

People receive a dose of Covid-19 vaccine in a car at Australia’s first drive-through vaccination center in the Melbourne suburb of Melton on August 10, 2021

“Australia faces limitations on data sharing due to divergent governance of healthcare systems within and across jurisdictions,” the report said.

“This limits policy decisions that are made in a timely and well-informed manner, especially during pandemics.”

The CSIRO said the report’s findings are crucial given the surge in viral disease outbreaks over the past century.

‘On average, two new viruses emerge in humans each year, and the proportion leading to major outbreaks is growing,’ the report says.

“The increasing incidence of virus transmissions from animal populations over the past 100 years has been largely driven by environmental degradation, climate change, urbanization, human encroachment on natural habitats, and increased global trade and travel.”

Australians have been warned to prepare for two pandemics each year (stock image of scientist working in a lab)

A new Moderna Covid booster approved for use in Australia is targeting the Omicron variant. Pictured is a bottle of Moderna Shot

Left: Australians have been warned to prepare for two pandemics each year (stock image of a scientist working in a lab). Right: A new Moderna Covid booster approved for use in Australia targets the Omicron variant. Pictured is a bottle of Moderna Shot

CSIRO said the flu virus and the fever-causing Ross River togavirus could also cause pandemics and Australia must be prepared for that possibility.

It warns that the world is not yet properly prepared for another global pandemic.

“The global understanding of most viruses with pandemic potential is not sufficient to take a medical countermeasure in a relatively short time,” it said.

More than 12,000 cases of Covid were reported across the country on Tuesday, along with 75 deaths from the virus.

WHY VACCINATIONS ARE IMPORTANT

Vaccination is a simple, safe and effective way to protect people from exposure to harmful diseases.

Vaccinations not only protect individuals but also others in the community by reducing the spread of preventable diseases.

Research and testing is an essential part of developing safe and effective vaccines.

In Australia, vaccines must pass rigorous safety tests before being approved for use by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). Vaccine approvals can take up to 10 years.

Before vaccines become available to the public, they are tested in large clinical trials on thousands of people.

High-quality studies have compared the health of large numbers of vaccinated and unvaccinated children over many years. Medical information from nearly 1.5 million children around the world has confirmed that vaccines do not cause autism.

People first became concerned about autism and vaccines after the medical journal The Lancet published an article in 1998. This article claimed that there was a link between the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism.

Since then, scholars have completely discredited this paper. The Lancet retracted it in 2010 and printed an apology. The British General Medical Council has removed the author from the medical register for misconduct and dishonesty.

Source: Australian Department of Health

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11162445/Moderna-Covid-booster-targeting-Omicron-variant-approved-Therapeutic-Goods-Administration.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490 Moderna Covid booster targeting the Omicron variant approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration

Emma Colton

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