The European Medicines Agency has given a positive opinion on the use of the first two variant-adapted COVID-19 booster vaccines, produced by BioNTech-Pfizer (Comirnaty) and Moderna (Spikevax) to protect against the Omicron BA.1 subvariant.
In a statement, EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said that these two adapted vaccines are important because they will contribute to protecting Europeans against likely new waves of the virus in autumn and winter. “We need to be ready to face another winter with COVID-19,” she said.
Kyriakides: 'Adapted COVID vaccines will be important ahead of winter'
Kyriakides explained that the Commission will proceed with an accelerated authorization of the two vaccines. “The adapted versions of these vaccines are to be used as booster doses that target the original virus and the Omicron BA.1 sub-variant” the Commissioner explained.
She added that “they are developed to offer increased, broader protection against current and future variants” and noted that the Commission expects an opinion on Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 adapted vaccines by the EMA in the coming weeks, recalling that the Commission’s contracts with the producing companies were amended to ensure that all member states will have access to adapted vaccines.
“Everyone eligible for a vaccine or booster dose should get it as soon as possible. The pandemic is not over, but the swift development and adaptation of vaccines to respond to this virus is one of the greatest successes in the modern history of medicine” Commissioner Kyriakides said, calling on member states to plan and launch new vaccination campaigns.
According to the EMA, studies have shown showed that Comirnaty Original/Omicron BA.1 and Spikevax Bivalent Original/Omicron BA.1 can trigger strong immune responses against Omicron BA.1 and the original SARS-CoV-2 strain in people previously vaccinated. In particular, they were more effective at triggering immune responses against the BA.1 subvariant than the original vaccines.