The UK has become the first country to authorise a Covid-19 vaccine tailored to the Omicron variant. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority – which was the first in the world to approve an original Covid-19 jab – has granted conditional authorisation to the vaccine, which targets both the original strain of the virus and Omicron BA.1.
The vaccine is authorised for use in people aged 18 and over but, to prepare for an expected rise in cases over the winter, the UK plans to focus its booster programme on the over-fifties and those at higher clinical risk of developing severe Covid.
Omicron is a variant of SARS-CoV-2 first reported to the World Health Organization by the Network for Genomics Surveillance in South Africa on 24 November 2021. It was first detected in Botswana and has spread to become the predominant variant in circulation around the world.