BioNTech’s chief executive has said that studies have suggested the vaccines currently in use are becoming less affective against the latest variants. Health regulator should decide whether to approve new vaccines targeting the recent strains without first requiring clinical data before the end of June.
Reaching a consent as to whether we should switch to a more updated vaccine is becoming more urgent as the sub-variants of the Omicron might fully escape the current vaccines’ protection.
Including studies from BioNTech and Science Journal Nature, a number of studies published this month have shown that antibody response against newer variants developed in the original Omicron strain, known as BA.1, is not strong, which suggests that vaccines in development against BA.1 might not be sufficient for protection against new variants.
“Time is ticking,” said Uğur Şahin. Please use the sharing tools found via the share button at the top or side of articles. Even with shots using rapid mRNA technology, such as those from BioNTech and Moderna, it could take three months from selecting a strain to mass production of vaccines, he said. If new clinical data were required, it could take four months longer.
“It would be useful to have the opportunity to do the vaccine adaptation according to the newest data without the requirement to do extra clinical trials,” he said.
Regulators worldwide will be meeting later this month for deciding on whether to switch to new vaccines for new Omicron variant. Vaccine makers have begun publishing data from clinical trials on shots targeted at BA.1. Data show that Moderna’s two-strain vaccine worked better repressing the dominant Omicron variant, and Sanofi and GSK’s vaccine against the beta strain was more effective.
These data will be discussed by the International Coalition of Medicines Regulatory Authorities at the end of the month. The FDA will meet to discuss whether the switch of vaccines is to be made later this month, but the decision will not be made until July. Marks said last month that a new vaccine would need to be at least 10 per cent better at combating the new strains than the current version.
Marco Cavaleri, head of vaccines at the European Medicines Agency, said regulators needed to know whether the new tailored jabs outperformed their predecessors and how many doses would be available before countries decided who should receive another booster in the autumn. “This global conversation is extremely important, because we think global alignment is very important,” he said in an interview.
Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at Johns Hopkins University in the US, said it would be better for manufacturers if the switch was coordinated around the world, because they could change all their production at once. “I don’t think there’s any advantage to not synchronizing logistics,” he said.