The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has recommended booster doses of modified vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna that target the omicron variant of the coronavirus. This was reported by the Reuters agency.
The modified vaccines target both the original virus variant and the BA.1 omicron variant. The European Commission has the final say in the authorization of the vaccine, its decision is expected soon.
The EU regulator has recommended the administration of booster doses to persons aged 12 and over who have received at least a basic vaccination against the covid-19 disease in the past.
Vaccines targeting the BA.4 and BA.5 submutations of the omicron coronavirus variant, which are now dominant and more infectious, are currently under review by the EMA. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the BA.5 subvariant accounts for up to 80 percent of covid-19 cases worldwide.
German MEP and health expert Peter Liese told Reuters on Wednesday that modified vaccines would be delivered to the European Union days after the vaccinations are approved by regulators.
Vaccines by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna, which target the omikron variant of the coronavirus, were already approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Wednesday. In mid-August, the modified vaccination from Moderna was also approved by the British Medicines Authority MHRA.
The EU regulator said the modified vaccines “should help maintain an optimal level of protection against covid-19 while the virus evolves”.
The researchers hope that the modified doses will trigger a strong immune system response to prevent not only a severe course of the disease, but also a mild one, much like the original vaccines did at the beginning of the pandemic before more contagious variants emerged.
It’s unclear how effective these boosters will be, as experts are still collecting data. However, there is evidence that they are safe, so waiting for further studies on their effectiveness would mean the risk of more and even more contagious variants emerging in the interim, according to the EMA.
Globally, the number of confirmed cases of covid-19 and deaths from this disease is decreasing, but experts expect that with the arrival of winter in the northern hemisphere, hospitalizations and deaths will increase.