Covid-19 vaccines: five questions about the new generation that points to the Omicron variant

Covid-19 vaccines: five questions about the new generation that points to the Omicron variant

They are eagerly awaited to launch the recall campaigns. The new vaccines against Covid, which should more particularly target the Omicron variant and its sub-variants, have just been approved by several countries. Its next commercialization should allow to counteract the probable resurgence of the epidemic this autumn and this winter. “We must be prepared to face another winter with Covid-19”warned the European Commissioner for Health, Stella Kyriakides. Franceinfo takes stock.

1What is this new generation of vaccines?

The American laboratories Moderna and Pfizer have returned to using the so-called messenger RNA technology. It is simply an upgrade from the original Comirnaty vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Spikevax from Moderna. They fight against the original strain of Sars-CoV-2, but also against Omicron, which is largely dominant today. These new vaccines are intended for people over 12 years of age who have already been vaccinated against Covid-19. In fact, the vaccines currently in circulation have been shown to be less effective against the variants that have been appearing over time.

Other laboratories are in line to launch their vaccine. 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. The French Sanofi is developing a vaccine that is used as a booster dose and that should also be effective in sub-variants of Omicron.

twoDo these new vaccines work on all Omicron sub-variants?

The new vaccines currently target the Omicron BA.1 subvariant. However, things should change quickly. A new Pfizer vaccine targeting the contagious BA.4 and BA.5 lineages of the Omicron variant, which have emerged in recent months as the world’s dominant strains, should be licensed in mid-September. A similar vaccine from Moderna is also in the works.

3What 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 Control and Prevention (CDC), the main health agency in the country, recommended them on Thursday, September 1, which makes it possible to use them, perhaps as soon as next week.. The day before, the American Medicines Agency (FDA) had authorized the versions of the two laboratories.

Canadian health authorities also approved the new version of Moderna’s vaccine on September 1, with the aim of quickly starting a new withdrawal campaign. Canada has already purchased 12 million doses of this vaccine and hopes to begin vaccination by the end of September, explained Dr. Howard Njoo, federal deputy director of public health. For its part, the regulator The British pharmaceutical company announced on Saturday, September 3, that it had approved the new generation of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. By mid-August, the UK had become the first country to license 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 views 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 waves of autumn and winter infections.” .said the European Commissioner for Health, Stella Kyriakides.

4When will they be available in France?

At the moment, a precise date of marketing of these new vaccines in France has not been communicated. However, the objective of using them during the booster vaccination campaign is maintained, which, according to the Scientific Council in its opinion of July 19, “could be open to people under 60 starting in the fall.” Currently, those eligible for a fourth dose are those over 60 years of age whose last injection was more than six months ago, pregnant women and all people 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 pre-injection level, compared to only a 4-fold increase with a booster using the initial vaccine.

“The usefulness of these new vaccines seems relatively obvious. If we compare with what we do, for example, for the flu vaccine, when the flu virus mutates and changes, we change the vaccine against this virus. We are in the same context “.explain about franceinfo immunologist Jean-Daniel Lelièvre, head of the department of infectious diseases at the Henri-Mondor de Créteil hospital, member of the Technical Commission for Vaccination of the Haute Autorité de Santé (HAS) and a WHO expert.

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

Jean-Daniel Lelièvre, immunologist

in franceinfo

“Messenger RNA techniques make it possible to have new vaccines very quickly“, say hello to the specialist again.


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