The Australian Government has accepted a recommendation from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) on the use of the Moderna Spikevax Bivalent Original/Omicron BA.1 vaccine as a third and fourth dose in people aged 18 years and older.
This is the first bivalent COVID-19 vaccine approved for use in Australia, with the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) the third regulator globally to approve this product.
The bivalent vaccine targets two different SARS-COV-2 viruses: the original 2020 strain and the Omicron variant BA.1.
Compared to the original vaccines, ATAGI found it triggers a modest improvement in the immune response against both strains. However, both the bivalent and original vaccines provide significant protection from severe disease against Omicron subvariant infections.
The first doses of the bivalent vaccine have arrived in the country and will now undergo batch testing by the TGA. They will be introduced into the rollout as existing stocks of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine are exhausted.
ATAGI has not made any changes to its current third and fourth dose recommendations and is not advising any extra doses at this time. You can find those recommendations here.
ATAGI continues to recommend that people who are due for a COVID-19 dose book an appointment, using whichever vaccine is available to them.
QUOTES FOR ATTRIBUTION TO MINISTER BUTLER
“I welcome ATAGI’s advice to make a dual strain/bivalent vaccine available as a third or fourth dose for people aged 18 years and over.
“This is an important first step in showing how mRNA vaccines can be adapted to different dominant variants and subvariants.
“The Albanese Government is undertaking an independent review of Australia’s vaccine and treatment procurements, led by former Secretary of the Commonwealth Department of Health, Professor Jane Halton AO.
“It will help ensure all eligible Australians have access to COVID-19 vaccines based on the medical advice, now and in the future.
“All COVID-19 vaccines in our rollout continue to offer important protection against severe disease and the Moderna bivalent is another tool in Australia’s response to COVID-19.”