This file photo taken on June 11, 2021 shows the entrance of the European Medicines Agency headquarters in Amsterdam. (FRANCOIS WALSCHAERTS / AFP)

JERUSALEM / ATHENS -The European Medicines Agency on Monday recommended a COVID-19 booster designed to combat the currently circulating Omicron BA.4/5 subvariants, days after endorsing a pair of boosters tailored to target the older BA.1 Omicron variant.

The latest recommendation is for a so-called bivalent vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, which targets BA.4/5 as well as the strain of the virus that originally emerged in China in December 2019 targeted by earlier COVID vaccines.

The EMA recommendation is to authorize the retooled booster shots for people aged 12 and above who have received at least primary vaccination against COVID. The final go-ahead will be subject to European Commission approval, which is expected to come in shortly.

If authorized, the BA.4/5-tailored booster will be available in days to all 27 EU member states, Pfizer said in a statement on Monday.

A medical staff member of the National Health Organization (EODY) conducts a COVID-19 rapid test on a man at a drive-through testing site at Aspropyrgos suburb, west of Athens, Greece, Jan 8, 2021. (THANASSIS STAVRAKIS / AP)


Vaccines adapted to fighting the latest Omicron variants of COVID-19 are now available in Greece, it was announced on Monday.

The two mRNA-type updated vaccines of Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna will be administered as booster shots starting from Sept. 14, to individuals meeting priority criteria set by the National Vaccination Committee, officials told a press briefing with Greek national broadcaster ERT.

Priority individuals include people over 60 years old, patients with immunosuppression or suffering from serious chronic illnesses, and healthcare personnel and staff in retirement homes.

Medical personnel provides medical assistance to a COVID-19 patient inside the intensive care unit in an hospital which treats patients with COVID-19 coronavirus in Kyiv on Nov 2, 2021. (SERGEI SUPINSKY / AFP)


The World Health Organisation expects a rise in COVID-19 in Ukraine to peak in October, possibly bringing hospitals close to their capacity threshold, WHO's director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Monday.

"We are now seeing an increase in cases of COVID-19 in Ukraine. We project that transmission could peak in early October and hospitals could approach their capacity threshold," Ghebreyesus told WHO'S Regional Committee for Europe conference in Tel Aviv.