Luxembourg starts roll-out of new Omicron boosters
Luxembourg began the roll-out of new Covid-19 jabs on Monday, after the European Medicines Agency (EMA) approved a new vaccine against the dominant Omicron strain of the virus ahead of the autumn and winter, when the disease spreads more rapidly.
The jab, made by pharmaceutical company Pfizer-BioNTech, will be used as a booster shot for people aged 12 or older and works against two sub-variants of Omicron as well as the original virus, the EMA said on Monday.
It is the third vaccine against Omicron that EMA has let on to the market after another from Pfizer-BioNTech and one by Moderna.
"Vaccines are adapted to better match the circulating variants [...] and are expected to provide broader protection against different variants,"the EMA said in a press release. The jab is effective at preventing severe disease, hospitalisation and death associated with Covid-19, the EMA said.
In the week between the 29 August and 4 September, Luxembourg registered just over 700 new Covid-19 infections, an 8% drop compared to the previous week before. Just one person needed intensive care treatment.
Luxembourg's top advisory panel, the National Infectious Diseases Service (CSMI), recommends people aged 60 and older to receive a second booster shot, as well as those with health conditions.
The Omicron jabs can also be used as a booster for those who have not had their first yet, the health ministry said. The Grand Duchy seeks to roll out the boosters ahead of the autumn and winter when the virus spreads more readily amongst the population as people spend more time indoors.
Last month, Health Minister Paulette Lenert said there was no need for further social restrictions in Luxembourg later this year if the Omicron variant, which is more contagious but less lethal than the original strain, prevails.
The dominance of the less deadly Omicron variant also means that Luxembourg has shelved its controversial vaccine mandate.
The news of the vaccine rollout comes as the European Court of Auditors found that the Commission's handling of vaccine supply contracts left the bloc exposed to jab shortages by signing off on contracts which contained no coverage in the event of disruption to supplies.