The COVID Booster: Australia approves second bivalent vaccine

Australia’s therapeutic goods administration has provisionally approved Pfizer’s bivalent COVID-19 vaccine.

It’s the second vaccine to receive approval from the nation’s medicines regulator, following Moderna’s product being brought to market recently.

“In making this regulatory decision, the TGA carefully considered data from an ongoing clinical study, which showed that the Comirnaty Original/Omicron BA.1 vaccine elicited a superior neutralising antibody response against Omicron BA.1 strain and a similar response against the ancestral strain, after use as a booster dose, compared with the original COMIRNATY vaccine,” the TGA said in a statement.

Like Moderna’s vaccine, clinical trials showed Comirnaty is most effective against the SARS-CoV-2 variants it is based on (the original and Omicron BA.1 strains), but also produces neutralising antibodies against BA.4 and BA.5 strains, which are currently the dominant sublineages in circulation.

The federal government is waiting for recommendations from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation on how the vaccine will be used as part of the national rollout.

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COVID news in brief

COVID-19 symptoms gone by eight weeks for most Americans.

A study by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital has surveyed more than 16,000 people and found 15% continued to report COVID-19 symptoms two months after infection.

They also found those who completed a primary vaccination series (two doses in the US), were less likely to report long COVID symptoms.

The results found each decade-long age bracket over 40, and being female, were associated with higher likelihood of reporting long COVID. Those who were infected with either Omicron or Epsilon variants reported extended symptoms less frequently than those with the original SARS-CoV-2 strain.

COVID-19 sent you to hospital? Your risk of heart issues might be higher

A study of nearly 18,000 people from Queen Mary University in London published in the British Medical Journal found that people hospitalised with COVID-19 symptoms have a higher risk of cardiovascular events.

That risk, the researchers say, is highest in the immediate period following infection.

While non-hospitalised cases also have a heightened risk of blood clots, they are not at increased risk of other cardiovascular issues.

“Such risks are almost entirely confined to those with disease requiring hospitalisation, and highest in the early (first 30 days) post infection period,” say the researchers.

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