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COVID-19 VACCINES

EU approves new dual-strain Covid vaccines in time for autumn booster campaigns

The European Medicines Agency has approved two new Covid vaccines that are designed to protect against both the original strain of the virus and the new Omicron variants.

EU approves new dual-strain Covid vaccines in time for autumn booster campaigns
Photo by Pascal POCHARD-CASABIANCA / AFP

Both Pfizer and Moderna had submitted applications for their dual-strain vaccines to the European Medicines Agency (EMA) in mid-July, with the agency announcing on Thursday that both had been approved.

The vaccines target both the Omicron variant and the original strain of Covid, but do not specifically target the Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants that have emerged as the global dominant strains in recent months.

The EMA approval comes after the US approved both vaccines on Wednesday, while the UK approved the Moderna dual-strain vaccine in mid-August.

Within the EU, countries have the choice of accepting the EMA recommendation straight out, or asking their own domestic health regulator to give its approval.

The dual-strain vaccines are widely expected to be used in Covid booster shot campaigns this autumn, which many countries plan to combine with the annual flu vaccination drive. 

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COVID-19 VACCINES

Sweden cuts waiting period for Covid booster to three months

Sweden’s Public Health Agency now recommends shortening the interval between the second and third dose of the Covid vaccine from five to three months.

Sweden cuts waiting period for Covid booster to three months
The waiting period between the second and third dose of a Covid-19 vaccine was previously five months in Sweden. Photo: Stina Stjernkvist/TT

More than 45 percent of over-18s in Sweden have been given a booster dose, but the agency said it wanted to speed up the process amid a sharp rise in Covid infections.

The new recommendations come three weeks after Sweden reduced the booster waiting time from six to five months, a decision that came later than many other European countries.

Denmark currently offers the third dose four and a half months after the second, Italy four months, Spain five months, and Germany, France and the UK three months.

Sweden recommends using half a dose of Moderna’s Spikevax vaccine or a full dose of Pfizer/Biontech’s Comirnaty as the third dose. The latter is recommended for under-31s.

Swedish regions are responsible for their own healthcare so it is ultimately up to them to decide how and when to roll out boosters to more people, although they are generally likely to follow the Public Health Agency’s advice. To book a vaccine in your region, go to the 1177.se healthcare website and click välj region at the top of the page.

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