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EMA: Covid vaccines clearly less effective against Omicron; people should get booster shots

Covid vaccines are clearly less effective against Omicron, said Emer Cook, head of European drugs regulator EMA. It will take time to reach consensus on variant-targeted vaccines, she added urging people to get vaccinated and boosted when offered a jab ‘because that’s the best protection at this point in time.’

Early evidence shows a “clear” drop in the effectiveness of current Covid-19 vaccines against the Omicron variant of coronavirus, according to the head of the European drugs regulator, who says it will take time to reach a consensus on whether variant-targeted vaccines will be needed.

Limited research findings suggest a drop in antibody counts when two shots are pitted against Omicron for mRNA vaccines, and also for adenovirus-based vaccines such as those from Oxford/AstraZeneca and Johnson and Johnson.

“The data coming in . . . it’s not at all definitive, there are very small numbers, [but] it’s clear that there is a drop in effectiveness,” Emer Cooke, executive director of the European Medicines Agency, told the Financial Times.

“How much, we don’t know.” But preliminary evidence also shows that a third dose of mRNA vaccines can at least partially restore antibody levels.

On Monday, Moderna became the latest vaccine maker to put out study results saying a third dose improved antibody levels. Scientists have said they believe full vaccination can still protect against severe disease.

“Whether [the drop in effectiveness] can be compensated by boosting, we don’t know, so for us it’s too early,” Cooke said. She added that more work on effectiveness had to be done, and the agency would then assess the Omicron situation both in Europe and globally.

She stressed people should continue to apply non-pharmaceutical interventions to stem contagion, and get vaccinated and boosted when offered “because that’s the best protection at this point in time”.

Most vaccine makers have said they have begun work on assessing new vaccines against Omicron. [full story FinancialTimes]

Meanwhile on Monday, EMA has approved the Novavax vaccine against Covid019, the fifth vaccines to be authorized for use in the European Union after Pfizer/BioNTech, AstraZeneca/Oxford, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson.

The manufacturer of the vaccine called Nuvaxovid claims it can help win over vaccine skeptics.

Nuvaxovid uses a more conventional technology than those used for the other vaccines already in use — it is similar to the technology used in the decades-old hepatitis B and pertussis vaccines — and does not need to be stored at ultra-low temperatures.

The so-called protein “subunit” vaccine contains purified fragments of the pathogen which then trigger an immune response. The jab is given as two injections three weeks apart. [full story euronews.]

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5 comments

  1. Because, clearly (when the 3 big manufacturers are making $1000/second in profits) 3 shots of an ineffective vaccine is better than 2 shots of an ineffective vaccine…..

    https://www.rte.ie/news/coronavirus/2021/1116/1260248-coronavirus-global/

    • It is a matter of degree. No approved vaccine is 100 % effective neither are any 100 % ineffective. All currently approved vaccines are based on the original variant of the virus that first emerged in Wuhan. The more variants deviate from that original variant the more the degree of protection decreases. Having some protection is better than having no protection. Maximising the protection with what is available is better than doing nothing. We live in a world of many colours and shades not black and white.

    • It‘s even better. Don’t wait to get your next shot in 6 months, get it after 3months instead. Or if you want to be a very good citizen, just apply for the VIP program and get your booster every month!

  2. also good to know that the EMA boss Emer Cooke worked for BigPharma many years. and as soon as she was announced as the EMA boss, the mrna therapies were authorized. probably coincidence…

  3. I see the word “approved”” being widely used. It is important to remember that there are no currently approved vaccines against SARS-COV-2.
    All those in use are “authorised”. In the USA by Emergency Use Authorisation (EUA), and in the EU by Conditional Marketing Authorisation (CMA).
    In the EU the Conditional part of the authorisation refers to the producers being bound to provide additional data, as the EMA does not have enough information to to issue a general use approval.