five questions about the next generation focusing on the Omicron variant

They are eagerly awaited to launch recall campaigns. New vaccines against Covid, which should target especially the Omicron variant and its sub-variants, have recently been approved in several countries. Their subsequent marketing should make it possible to combat the probable rise of the epidemic this fall and this winter. “We must be ready to face another winter of Covid-19”warned the European Commissioner for Health, Stella Kyriakides. Franceinfo took the stock.

1What is this new generation of vaccines?

The American laboratories Moderna and Pfizer have again used the so-called messenger RNA technology. This is just an update of the original vaccines Comirnaty from Pfizer-BioNTech and Spikevax from Moderna. They both fight against the original strain of Sars-CoV-2, but also against Omicron, which is more prevalent today. These new vaccines are intended for individuals over 12 years of age who have already been vaccinated against Covid-19. The vaccines currently in circulation have actually proven to be less effective against the variants that have appeared over time.

Some laboratories are in line to release their vaccine. The Spanish pharmaceutical company Hipra, which has signed a contract with the European Commission to supply up to 250 million doses, is awaiting approval from the European regulator. French Sanofi produces a vaccine that is used as a booster dose and should also be effective in sub-variants of Omicron.

2Do these new vaccines work with all Omicron subvariants?

New vaccines now target the Omicron BA.1 subvariant. However, things must change soon. A new Pfizer vaccine targeting the infectious BA.4 and BA.5 lines of the Omicron variant, which have emerged in recent months as the world’s dominant strains, should be authorized in mid -mid September. A similar vaccine from Moderna is also in the works.

3Which countries allow them?

United States, United Kingdom, Canada… Several countries have already approved the use of these new vaccines, in different forms. In the United States, the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), the country’s main health agency, recommended them on Thursday, September 1, making their use possible, perhaps as early as next week.. The previous day, the American Medicines Agency (FDA) approved the versions of the two laboratories.

Canadian health authorities also approved Moderna’s new version of the vaccine on September 1, with the aim of quickly starting a new recall campaign. Canada has already purchased 12 million doses of this vaccine and hopes to start vaccinating at the end of September, explained Dr. Howard Njoo, deputy chief federal public health officer. For its part, the regulator The British pharmaceutical company announced on Saturday September 3 that it approved the new generation of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. By the middle of August, the United Kingdom was done the first country to approve Moderna’s new vaccine.

And for the EU? The European medicines regulator approved, on September 1, the new Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. “Today’s positive opinions from the European Medicines Agency on the first two variant-matched mRNA vaccines, from BioNTech-Pfizer and Moderna, are important to protect Europeans against the likely risk of wave of infections in the fall and winter.”said European Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides.

4When will they be available in France?

At the moment, no exact marketing date of these new vaccines in France has been announced. However, the goal remains to use it during the vaccination campaign, which, according to the Scientific Council in its opinion on July 19, “will be open to people under 60 from the fall”. Currently, those eligible for the fourth dose are those over 60 whose last injection has been more than six months ago, pregnant women and all those at risk.

5Are they really more efficient?

The results published by the laboratories are encouraging. According to Moderna, antibodies against Omicron, for example, increased 8-fold from their level before the injection, compared to a 4-fold increase in a booster using the first vaccine.

“The usefulness of these new vaccines seems to be quite clear. If we compare what we do, for example, for the flu vaccine, if the flu virus mutates and changes, we will change the vaccine against this virus. We are in the same context”explains about franceinfo immunologist Jean-Daniel Lelièvre, head of the infectious diseases department at the Henri-Mondor hospital in Créteil, member of the Technical Commission for Vaccinations of the Haute Autorité de Santé (HAS) and expert for the WHO.

“We saw that these new variants came very quickly. We had to adapt to these new variants.”

Jean-Daniel Lelièvre, immunologist

at franceinfo

“Messenger RNA techniques allow for the rapid development of new vaccines“, salute the specialist again.

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