NewsOmikron: These corona vaccines are adapted to the virus...

Omikron: These corona vaccines are adapted to the virus variant

According to initial studies, the corona vaccines do not provide optimal protection against the Omikron virus variant. Therefore, some vaccines should now be adapted to the mutant.

The government continues to rely on vaccinations in the fight against the corona pandemic. But there is a problem: According to studies, the approved vaccines do not provide optimal protection against the ever-expanding new virus variant Omikron B1.1.529 *, which was first discovered in South Africa.

According to a study from South Africa, Biontech also shows effectiveness with Omikron * – two doses of the vaccine also clearly protect against severe courses in the Omikron variant, but the protection against infection is much less. Several Germans have been shown to be infected with Omikron * despite the booster vaccination, as * has already reported.

Omikron: Which corona vaccines are adapted to the virus variant?

“We know that the Omikron variant really threatens us,” said EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen. Omikron is spreading at an extremely fast rate. Therefore, some vaccines are now to be adapted to the virus mutant Omikron for optimal protection. A fourth dose adapted to Omikron could possibly be necessary later, said Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD). But which vaccines should be adapted to Omikron?

  • Biontech / Pizer has already started adapting the mRNA vaccine to the Omikron virus strain, the company announced on December 8, 2021. Biontech’s customized vaccine is expected to be on the market by the end of March 2022.
  • The US manufacturer Moderna is also revising its mRNA vaccine, as reported by the WDR. According to experts, a clinical study will begin in 60 to 90 days.
  • The British-Swedish company AstraZeneca is currently still examining the extent to which the vector vaccine protects against an omicron infection and severe courses. According to the University of Oxford, there is currently no evidence that the vaccine protection against severe courses in Omikron declines. However, so far there is only limited data, as reported by the WDR.
  • Johnson & Johnson is also currently testing the effectiveness of the Omikron vector vaccine. The US manufacturer is already working on a new vaccine, which can be further developed and adapted to Omikron.
  • The protein-based vaccine from the US manufacturer Novavax has not yet been approved in the EU. But the EMA decision on the approval of Novavax * is imminent. To what extent Novavax protects against Omikron is still unclear, the effectiveness is still being tested.

The EU has already announced that, in view of the worrying Omikron variant, 180 million doses of adapted corona vaccine will be delivered by Biontech / Pfizer, as reported by the German Press Agency (dpa) . An existing contract stipulates that the companies – if desired – adapt the vaccines to new variants within 100 days, said von der Leyen after an EU summit in Brussels.

Omikron: This is how the corona vaccines are adapted to the virus variant

What’s the problem with Omikron anyway? The variant has a noticeably high number of genetic changes at key points. More than 30 mutations affect the so-called spike protein with which the virus enters human cells, as reported by the dpa. The problem: The previous vaccines are aimed at the spike protein of the coronavirus from the beginning of the pandemic.

If a virus changes in such a way that antibodies from convalescent and vaccinated persons respond less well, experts call this “immune escape”. In addition, there are indications from genetic analyzes, among other things, that Omikron per se is more contagious than Delta, said modeler Dirk Brockmann from the Humboldt University in Berlin. The immune escape alone cannot explain the growth rates.

So that antibodies against the Omikron variant are also formed in the future after a vaccination, the existing vaccines should be adapted to the genetic changes of the Omikron mutant and the modified spike protein of the variant so that the immune system recognizes the Omikron spike protein and a Can build defenses. According to Klaus Cichutek, President of the Paul Ehrlich Institute, a lengthy approval process should be dropped if the application for the related Covid vaccine is already complete. * is an offer from IPPEN.MEDIA.

Headline list image: © Lennart Preiss / dpa

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