The Australian Government has accepted a recommendation from the nation’s Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) to make Moderna’s bivalent COVID-19 vaccine available to adults aged 18 and over.
The vaccine, which is based upon both the original and Omicron BA.1 subvariant, is part of a next generation series of mRNA vaccines submitted for approval by health authorities around the world. It was recently given provisional approval by the Therapeutic Goods Administration, following a world-first rubber-stamping by the UK Government in August.
ATAGI recommended the vaccine be used as an alternative for any booster dose in people aged 18 years or older in line with its current recommendations.
Those recommendations are currently that a third vaccine dose be administered three months after the initial two courses of approved vaccine, or recovery from COVID-19 infection – whichever is more recent.
A winter booster is also recommended for adults over 50, again three months after the more recent of infection recovery or a previous dose. Adults aged 30 and over are also able to receive a booster, though it’s not currently recommended by authorities.
ATAGI emphasised that no other changes to existing booster recommendations have been made, merely that Moderna’s bivalent vaccine is now an option for the public. The bivalent vaccine is not recommended as the primary (first two doses) course of vaccination.
“This is an important first step in showing how mRNA vaccines can be adapted to different dominant variants and subvariants,” says Australia’s health minister Mark Butler.
Butler also confirmed the federal government is independent reviewing Australia’s vaccine and treatment procurements.