Covid: what we know about the new vaccines against Omicron from Pfizer and Moderna approved by Europe
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Covid: what we know about the new vaccines against Omicron from Pfizer and Moderna approved by Europe

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The European Medicines Regulatory Authority on Thursday approved the first Covid-19 vaccines adapted to the Omicron variant, those from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna. Here’s what we know about these new vaccines.

Summer is ending and very quickly, especially with the start of the new school year that has just begun, the question of a strong resurgence of Covid-19 will arise. In this context, the prospect of the coming winter already worries the authorities. Can it be saved from the epidemic thanks to the vaccines against Omicron developed by Pfizer and Moderna that have just been approved by Europe? response elements.

RNA messenger vaccines

As with the first release of vaccines that were introduced by Pfizer and Moderna at the end of 2020, messenger RNA technology was used to develop this second generation. In fact, they are “simply” modified versions of the original vaccines Comirnaty from Pfizer/BioNTech and Spikevax from Moderna, the labs explained.

The added value of these two vaccines is to fight the Omicron variant as well as the original strain that has almost disappeared. It is intended for people over 12 years of age who have received at least one initial vaccine against Covid-19. Early vaccines did provide some protection against Omicron and its sub-variants, but were not effective.

One of the Omicron target sub-variables, but not all

The problem with these new vaccines is that they target ‘only’ the Omicron BA.1 subfactor. This was the first to take the lead, but in recent months the BA.4 and BA.5 strains have emerged as the world’s dominant strains. They quickly replaced the previous alpha and delta variants and are particularly responsible for the waves of new cases that occurred in Europe and the United States before the summer.

An update is expected in the fall

So European countries are eagerly awaiting vaccines targeting the Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 sub variants so they can launch booster campaigns before a frightening resurgence of Covid-19 cases this winter. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) in this sense recently announced that it aims to obtain approval “as of autumn” for vaccines against Covid that target these two subtypes. Already on Wednesday, US health authorities authorized a new version of vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna that specifically target the BA.4 and BA.5 strains.

“Positive opinions released today (Thursday 1 September, Editor’s note) by the European Medicines Agency on the first two adaptive mRNA vaccines, from BioNTech-Pfizer and Moderna, are important to protect Europeans from potential waves of danger in autumn and winter,” said European Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides. In a statement, she added: “We must be ready for winter again with Covid-19.”

Same side effects

The European Energy Agency said its review of the adapted Pfizer and Moderna vaccines focused on data from studies and laboratory tests on the immune response against the original strain and against the Omicron variant. “The side effects observed with the modified vaccines are comparable to those seen with the original vaccines and are generally mild and short-lived,” the agency said.

Remember that all types of Omicron tend to have a milder disease course because they settle less in the lungs and more in the upper nasal passages, causing symptoms such as fever, fatigue, and loss of smell.

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