The second next generation Covid-19 booster jab which targets two strains of the virus has been approved for use in adults in the UK.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has authorised Pfizer/BioNTech’s bivalent vaccine, which targets both the original Covid strain and the Omicron variant.
The UK was the first nation to approve the updated jabs when it certified Moderna’s version in August, and now both could be used in the booster programme.
The updated booster vaccine made by Pfizer/BioNTech, targeting two coronavirus variants, has been approved for use in those aged 12 years old and above.
This decision has been endorsed by the Commission on Human Medicines, after a “careful review of the evidence” the MHRA said.
“I am pleased to announce that we now have a second approved vaccine for the UK Autumn booster programme,” said Dr June Raine, MHRA’s chief executive.
“The clinical trial of the Pfizer/BioNTech bivalent vaccine showed a strong immune response against the Omicron BA.1 variant as well as the original strain.
“Bivalent vaccines are helping us to meet the challenge of an ever-evolving virus, to help protect people against Covid-19 variants.
“We have in place a comprehensive safety surveillance strategy for all UK-approved Covid-19 vaccines, and this will include the updated booster we approved today.”
It comes as the rate of Covid-19 infection in Scotland has continued its downward trajectory.
The Covid infection survey published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimates that one in 55 people in Scotland had the virus in the week to August 23.
According to the ONS, the figure equates to 1.82% of the population, or 96,000 people.
The figure dropped substantially from one in 40 the week before.
In a statement, Pfizer UK country president Susan Rienow said: “We are delighted with today’s approval by the MHRA of Pfizer-BioNTech’s Omicron BA.1-adapted bivalent Covid-19 vaccine.
“We have been following the science since the beginning of the pandemic and are pleased to be able to provide the National Health Service with another tool in the armoury.
“We have been manufacturing the new vaccine at risk (ahead of approval being granted), and doses will be shipped immediately for use in the autumn booster programme to help protect people in the UK this winter season.”
Last week, Moderna announced it was suing Pfizer and BioNTech for “infringing patents” on its technology, which it claims was central to development of the Covid-19 vaccine.
The biotechnology giant has claimed that the Comirnaty vaccine, developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, copied its technology.
Pfizer/BioNTech said it was “surprised by the litigation”.
A spokesperson said: “We remain confident in our intellectual property supporting the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and will vigorously defend against the allegations of the lawsuit.”