Published: 10:43, July 12, 2022 | Updated: 14:39, July 12, 2022
Moderna to advance two Omicron vaccine candidates
By Agencies

This file photo taken on June 4, 2021 shows a vial of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at a pharmacy in Paris, France. (STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN / AFP)

ROME / TUNIS / LUSAKA - Moderna Inc said on Monday it was advancing two Omicron vaccine candidates for the fall, one designed against the BA.1 variant and another against the BA.4 and BA.5.

Vaccine makers including Moderna and rival Pfizer Inc are developing updated vaccines to target the fast-spreading Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5, which have gained a foothold in the United States over recent weeks

Vaccine makers including Moderna and rival Pfizer Inc are developing updated vaccines to target the fast-spreading Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5, which have gained a foothold in the United States over recent weeks.

Moderna said its decision to develop the bivalent vaccines was based on different market preferences for shots against the subvariants.

Bivalent vaccines are designed to target two different coronavirus variants - the original variant from 2020 and the newer Omicron variants.

ALSO READ: Official: EU backs second COVID-19 booster for over-60s

Moderna said new clinical data for its mRNA-1273.214 vaccine, designed to target the BA.1 variant, showed significantly higher neutralizing antibody responses against the fast-spreading BA.4 and BA.5 compared with the currently authorized booster.

The company's second booster candidate, mRNA 1273.222, is based on the BA.4/5 strain and is being developed in accordance with recent US Food and Drug Administration advice.

ALSO READ: Hit by COVID-19, EU population shrinks for second year running

Jefferies analyst Michael Yee said though the new data on the company's BA.1 subvariant-targeting booster shows better durability and antibody response, the original Omicron variant has already shifted in the United States and the FDA is likely to approve planned BA.4/5 boosters.

A medical worker at work at a COVID-19 unit of the Sant'Orsola-Malpighi Hospital in Bologna, Italy, on Nov 12, 2020. (GIANNI SCHICCHI / XINHUA)


Italy will soon start its campaign to administer a second COVID-19 booster to everyone aged over 60, the health minister said on Monday, after receiving a green light from European Union health agencies.

The European recommendation came on Monday amid a new rise in infections and hospitalisations across Europe and was expected to facilitate national decisions to speed up vaccination campaigns, which have been slowing in recent months.

Health Minister Roberto Speranza said the government had already given the go-ahead to Italy's 20 regional administrations to start the second booster campaign, after the approval of national medicine agency AIFA.


Tunisia witnessed a noticeable rebound in COVID-19 cases as the test positivity rate has risen to 50 percent from about 21.75 percent over the past two weeks, private radio station Mosaique FM reported on Monday.

"The health situation in Tunisia is worrying but remains under control," Samia Ayed, spokesperson for the Tunisian scientific committee for the fight against the coronavirus, was quoted by Mosaique FM as saying.

The spokesperson also said that a week of compulsory confinement would be imposed on the pilgrims returning from Saudi Arabia.

According to the latest figures released by Tunisian Health Ministry, Tunisia reports 48 fatalities, 13,947 infections in the week from June 27 to July 3, raising the total tally of infections to 1,066,127, and the death toll to 28,748 in the North African country.

This file photo taken on Nov 17, 2020 shows vials with COVID-19 Vaccine stickers attached and syringes with the logo of US biotech company Novavax. (JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP)


The US government will get 3.2 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine developed by Novavax Inc once the shot has been authorized by the regulators, the Department of Health and Human Services and the company said on Monday.

The shot will be made available for free in the country after it gets authorization by the US Food and Drug Administration for emergency use and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's recommendation.


Health authorities in Zambia on Monday announced heightened COVID-19 preventive measures ahead of the forthcoming African Union meetings.

Zambia will host the 41st Session of the Executive Council of the AU and the 4th AU mid-year coordination meeting from July 14 to July 17 in Lusaka, the capital of Zambia.

About 13 African presidents as well as about 3,500 other officials are expected to attend the meetings.

Zambian Minister of Health Sylvia Masebo said the ministry has put in place measures to provide adequate safety and assure the public of health security to the delegates and the local people. She declared that the ministry has provided health preventive measures starting from the airport, the venue of the meetings as well as hotels where the delegates will be lodging.