COVID-19

Aussies could be first in world to get Omicron booster

Moderna’s new Covid vaccine designed to fight the original Wuhan strain of the virus, as well as the Omicron variant, is currently being assessed by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).“If approved, the company will be able to supply this new Omicron-containing bivalent booster vaccine within weeks- putting Australia among the first countries in the world to have access to this new COVID-19 vaccine,” Moderna’s managing director in Australia Michael Azrak told News Corp.Health Minister Mark Butler told News Corp he wanted to be on “the front foot” in accessing the most up to date vaccines.“I’ve had encouraging discussions with Moderna and Pfizer about the challenges of the new sub-variants and the positive developments in vaccine technology,” Mr Butler said.“My department is in negotiations about future supply arrangements, including for under 5-year-olds and the variant vaccines,” he said.Epidemiologists and other experts have been calling for more Australians to get a fourth jab as hospitals and health services buckle under massive pressure from both Covid and the flu.The government’s expert advisory group on vaccines the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) was meeting on Wednesday to decide whether more Australians should get access to a fourth Covid booster.There are more than 16 million unused doses of the existing Covid vaccines siting in warehouses and doctors clinics.Currently a fourth dose is only available to the elderly and those who are immunocompromised or suffering certain chronic conditions.The existing Covid vaccines were designed to work against the original Wuhan variant.A fourth dose of these vaccines has been shown in Israel to provide a 10-30 per cent increase in resistance to infection but this protection wanes within five to eight weeks.However, this could be enough to get Australia through the worst of the winter outbreak.But there is concern about whether the original jab provides much protection against the new BA. 4 and BA. 5 variants sweeping the nation.These variants appear resistant to the existing vaccine and the antibodies produced by people who were infected with the original Omicron variant.Mr Butler has appointed former Health Department chief Jane Halton to review Australia’s vaccine purchasing arrangements. She is expected to report within weeks.Moderna said it “continues to have constructive discussions with the Australian Government regarding the supply of Moderna’s next generation Omicron containing bivalent vaccine booster for people 18 years and older”.‘Waiting is the killer’: Biggest threat to Aussie men revealedSurprising way to treat Covid-19suetips

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