Vaccine makers are competing to update their COVID-19 shots against the latest coronavirus threats, just in case it becomes clear that changes are needed.
Experts suspect that today’s shots will be useless, but no matter what happens at Omicron, this latest mutant isn’t the last, so how fast companies generate represcribed doses. And say it’s important to see if it works.
Omicron says, “I’m pulling a fire alarm. It’s really good to know if this can actually be done, whether or not it turns out to be a false alarm. Prepare to deploy a new vaccine. Get it in place, “said E. John Welly, an immunoscientist at the University of Pennsylvania.
It is premature to know how the vaccine can tolerate Omicron. The first hint of the week was mixed. Preliminary lab tests may not prevent Omicron infection with two doses of Pfizer, but may protect against serious illness. And booster shots may boost enough immunity to do both.
Better responses are expected in the coming weeks, and regulators in the United States and other countries are closely monitoring. The World Health Organization has appointed an independent scientific committee to advise if shots need to be represcribed for Omicron or other variants.
However, authorities have not revealed what causes such a dramatic step. What if the vaccine immunity to a serious illness is reduced, or if a new variant simply spreads rapidly?
“This is not trivial,” said Ugur Sahin, CEO of Pfizer’s vaccine partner BioNTech, shortly before Omicron was discovered. A company can also apply to market a new prescription. “But what if another company makes another proposal with another variation? There is no agreed strategy.”
It’s a difficult decision — and viruses run faster than science. Just this fall, US government vaccine advisors wondered why boosters weren’t modified to target the highly contagious delta mutant. The next dreaded variant, Omicron, is neither a descendant of Delta nor a very close friend.
If you need to fine-tune your vaccine, you have yet another question. Need another Omicron booster or combination shot? And if it’s a combo, do you need to target the original strain with Omicron, or do you need to target the currently dominant Delta Variant and Omicron? This is what we know.
Companies don’t start from scratch
The COVID-19 vaccine works by inducing the production of antibodies that recognize and attack the peplomer that coats the coronavirus, and many are made with new technologies that are flexible enough to be easily updated. Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are made with genetic commands that instruct the body to make harmless copies of the spike protein, are the fastest to regulate, and can exchange messenger RNA to match new mutations.
Pfizer expects the Food and Drug Administration to have an Omicron-specific candidate for consideration in March and is ready to ship several initial batches at about the same time, Chief Scientific Officer Michael Dollar. Dr. Sten told The Associated Press.
Moderna predicts that it will take 60-90 days for Omicron-specific candidates to be ready for testing. Other manufacturers of COVID-19 vaccines using a variety of technologies, such as Johnson & Johnson, are also pursuing possible updates.
Pfizer and Moderna have already successfully brewed experimental doses that match different variants named Delta and Beta, and shots are not required, but provided valuable practice.
Do not clarify if fine adjustment is required
So far, the original vaccine has provided at least some cross-protection against previous mutants. Even if the immunity to Omicron is not very good, Dr. Anthony Fauci, a top expert in infectious diseases in the United States, hopes that a large antibody jump caused by the booster effect will make up for it.
Pfizer’s preliminary lab tests released Wednesday suggest that this may be the case, but antibodies aren’t the only layer of defense. Vaccines also spur T cells that can prevent serious illness if someone becomes infected. In Pfizer’s first tests, as expected, it doesn’t seem to be affected by Omicron.
Also, memory cells that can create new antibodies are formed at each dose.
“You are really training your immune system not only to successfully process existing mutants, but also to prepare a broader repertoire for actually processing new mutants,” Dorsten said. rice field.
How aggressive the mutant is also affects whether or not the vaccine is represcribed. Omicrons appear to spread easily, but early reports from South African scientists suggest that Omicrons can cause milder infections than previous variants.
How to check if the update works
The FDA says companies don’t need extensive research on fine-tuned vaccines, but whether people given updated shots have an immune response comparable to the original highly effective shots. He said he needed a small study to measure.
Wherry does not expect data from volunteers testing experimental shots targeting Omicron until at least February.
What about combination shots?
Influenza vaccines prevent 3 or 4 different strains of influenza with a single dose. If Omicron needs to be fine-tuned to the vaccine, authorities will need to decide whether to create an Omicron booster separately or add it to the original vaccine. Alternatively, you can try different combinations according to your flu model.
There is some evidence that the COVID-19 combo shot may work. In a small Moderna study, so-called bivalent boosters containing the original vaccine and beta-specific doses caused larger antibody jumps than the original Moderna booster or its experimental beta-specific shots.
And scientists are already working on next-generation vaccines that target parts of the virus that are less likely to mutate.
Omicron brings “another important awakening call”. Welly said to not only immunize the world, but to create more versatile options to get the job done.
AP reporter James Keaten contributed to this report.
The Associated Press’s Department of Health Sciences is supported by the Science Education Department of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. AP is solely responsible for all content.
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Vaccine makers are competing to update their COVID shots just in case | WGN Radio 720
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