Health Canada approves Moderna’s Omicron vaccine

A public health nurse administers a COVID-19 vaccine. (File photo supplied by Southwestern Public Health)

Health Canada has given the green light to Moderna’s new COVID-19 vaccine that targets the Omicron variant.

The federal agency has approved the adapted version of the Spikevax shot, which targets both the original strain of COVID-19 and the BA.1 subvariant. It is authorized for use as a booster dose in individuals 18 years of age or older.

According to Health Canada, is the first bivalent COVID-19 vaccine authorized in Canada and marks a milestone in Canada’s response to COVID-19.

“After a thorough and independent scientific review of the evidence, Health Canada has determined that the bivalent Moderna Spikevax booster is safe and effective,” a statement from Health Canada said. “Clinical trial results showed that a booster dose of the bivalent Moderna Spikevax vaccine triggers a strong immune response against both Omicron (BA.1) and the original SARS-CoV-2 virus strain.┬áIt was also found to generate a good immune response against the Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants, and is expected to extend the durability of protection.”

While Health Canada said the adapted vaccine was found to “generate a good immune response against the Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants,” it is not the same as the version that was recently approved in the United States, which targets the newer strains that are behind the majority of new cases in Canada.

In a statement released Thursday, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommended that adults in Canada take advantage of the new version of the vaccine.

“NACI recommends that the authorized dose of a bivalent Omicron-containing
mRNA COVID-19 vaccine should be offered as a booster dose to the authorized age groups (18 years of age),” it said. “If the bivalent Omicron-containing mRNA COVID-19 vaccine is not readily available, an original mRNA COVID-19 vaccine should be offered to ensure timely protection”