Chasing COVID variants (again) –


As new circumstances of COVID-19 triple throughout the EU in six weeks, well being authorities are as soon as once more racing to adapt and develop vaccines to guard Europe’s inhabitants, attempting as soon as once more to get forward of the curve – whichever variant is likely to be dominant by autumn.

Practically all European nations have reported rising COVID circumstances over the previous weeks: now primarily pushed by Omicron sub-lineages BA.4 and BA.5.

It’s estimated that the BA.5 variant can have changed all the opposite variants by the top of this month, because of its excessive transmissibility.

“We see a surge of circumstances now, very possible, there shall be a brand new surge of circumstances after the summer season,” Pierre Delsaux, the director-general of the Fee’s Well being Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority (HERA), mentioned at a gathering with the European Parliament’s COVI committee.

“Perhaps we’d have one other [variant]. I don’t wish to threaten you or frighten you, however there’s such a chance,” he mentioned.

The ‘good factor’ for Delsaux is that the bloc has sufficient vaccines.

Certainly, the EU’s vaccine portfolio is pretty well-stocked, with six authorised vaccines at hand: BioNTech and Pfizer’s Comirnaty, Valneva’s COVID-19 Vaccine, Moderna’s Spikevax, Novavax’s Nuvaxovid, AstraZeneca’s Vaxzevria, and Janssen’s Jcovden.

Furthermore, assessments of two different vaccines, HIPRA’s COVID-19 Vaccine and Sanofi’s Vidprevtyn vaccine are progressing within the European Medicines Company (EMA).

By now, EU member states have so many vaccines the Fee is in negotiation with producers to delay the supply of pre-ordered doses: it has already been agreed that shipments from Pfizer/BioNTech for the second and third quarter, alongside doses from Moderna for the second quarter, shall be delivered after the summer season.

Autumn with bivalent vaccines 

Presently, the EMA is working in direction of the potential approval of adaptive vaccines in September, evaluating preliminary knowledge from mRNA vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech.

Adaptive, or bivalent vaccines, are people who cross-neutralise two COVID-19 virus variants in a single shot.

Initially, the 2 corporations had been targeted on constructing a vaccine to focus on the unique pressure of Omicron and BA.1, which is slated to be obtainable to Europeans by this September. Nonetheless, as BA.1 has been pushed out by BA.4 and BA.5, each corporations have moved on to engaged on bivalent vaccines focusing on the unique pressure together with each BA.4 and BA.5.

“It’s a comparatively new illness, we’re in a state of affairs the place vaccines really are chasing the virus. So in different phrases, we’re all the time behind the curve to a sure extent”, Delsaux mentioned.

As it’s unattainable to know what variant would possibly happen sooner or later, the top of EMA’s vaccine technique, Marco Cavaleri, lately highlighted that it is crucial to not chasethe virus repeatedly and assume that we will be prepared with a vaccine composition that’s precisely matching what shall be in circulation sooner or later.”

One burning query is what immune response an tailored vaccine will present in opposition to potential strains which may emerge as ‘offspring’ from the Omicron variants presently doing the rounds.

“The selection of vaccine composition will depend upon the breadth of immunity achieved in opposition to variants of issues, particularly in opposition to the latest and presently circulated variants,” Cavaleri mentioned, including that sooner or later, EMA is anticipating “to have a number of vaccines to incorporate in our vaccines armamentarium with an assortment of various compositions and platform applied sciences.”

Ought to we look forward to an adaptive shot?

European Centre for Illness Prevention and Management (ECDC) director Andrea Ammon admitted that the present state of affairs is likely to be complicated for some, as persons are inspired to get main vaccination or booster pictures now, whereas new bivalent vaccines may even doubtlessly turn into obtainable in autumn.

Nonetheless, “the wave is now” she mentioned, explaining why the ECDC triggered the decision for second boosters for over 60s on 11 July.

“We’ve got to contemplate if adopted vaccines are authorised in September, that’s nonetheless two months from now,” she highlighted, including that by that point, the present wave might already be over the height or already over in some nations.

“So the chance for folks is now and that’s the background for this recommendation,” Ammon mentioned. “If I get provided vaccine now, I’ll take it now. That’s simply to be very clear,” she concluded.

This week, each World Well being Organisation Europe and the EU Fee have referred to as on nations to step up preventative public well being measures.

On Monday (18 July), EU well being chief Stella Kyriakides despatched a letter, seen by EURACTIV, to the member states calling on them to bolster efforts for main vaccination and booster doses, following the ECDC’s and EMA’s up to date suggestions, in addition to securing adequate healthcare provides and applicable use of medical countermeasures.

As for individuals who are getting their first shot, HERA’s Delsaux mentioned that it’s a private selection, including {that a} second shot for the first vaccination would include an adaptive vaccine in any case.

By Giedrė Peseckytė

Subscribe to EURACTIV’s Well being Temporary, the place you’ll discover the newest roundup of reports overlaying well being from throughout Europe. The Well being Temporary is delivered to you by EURACTIV’s Well being Group Giedrė Peseckytė, Clara Bauer-Babef, Amalie Holmgaard Mersh, and Gerardo Fortuna.

Blood, tissues and cells laws. Thursday (14 July) the Fee proposed new guidelines on substances of human origin (SoHO) geared toward offering each donors and sufferers with a future-proof and harmonised framework for transplants and donations whereas sustaining some limits on the availability aspect of those therapies.

Monkeypox vaccines. As monkeypox circumstances within the EU nearly double in every week, the European Fee’s Well being Preparedness and Response Authority (HERA) secured over 54,000 extra vaccine doses in opposition to the virus on Monday (18 July).

New wave of COVID-19. Amid a tripling of recent COVID-19 circumstances up to now six weeks, the EU’s Well being Commissioner Stella Kyriakides referred to as on member states to step up preventative public well being measures in preparation for colder months, in a letter obtained by EURACTIV dated Monday (18 July).

Ukraine. EU4Health programme funds had been made obtainable for the Ukrainian well being system on Friday (15 July), making one other “historic step” in EU’s Ukraine’s partnership, EU well being Commissioner Stella Kyriakides mentioned.

EMA relocation. The European Courtroom of Justice (ECJ) dominated on Thursday (14 July) that the challenged choice to maneuver the European Medicines Company (EMA) to Amsterdam as an alternative of Milan can’t be annulled. The ECJ concluded that there have been no irregularities within the process that led to the choice of member states’ EU ambassadors to decide on town of Amsterdam as the brand new seat.

Textual content messages with Pfizer CEO. In her ultimate evaluation of the Fee’s reply to her criticism, the European Ombudsman harshly criticised the EU govt Thursday (14 July) for his or her response to texts between Fee President Ursula von der Leyen and the CEO of pharmaceutical large Pfizer, Albert Bourla, and confirmed the discovering of maladministration.

Cholera-causing micro organism. Detection within the Chinese language metropolis of Wuhan of a micro organism that precipitated cholera in a pupil and was individually present in samples from softshell turtles at a meals market has struck a delicate nerve with unusual Chinese language folks, with some relating it to COVID-19.

Diabetes. Folks dwelling with diabetes have to be put “within the driver’s seat” of their therapies because of the built-in care idea, a well being professional informed EURACTIV. Built-in approaches to healthcare goal to keep away from silos in the midst of a sure remedy or a wide range of therapies, growing cooperation between completely different actors and healthcare suppliers to raised ship holistic look after sufferers.

EMA steering to stop medicines shortages. Friday (15 July), the EMA printed a steering for sufferers’ and healthcare professionals’ organisations to be able to supply help within the prevention and administration of medicines shortages.

In line with the EMA, “drugs shortages and decreased availability of medicines symbolize an growing situation throughout the EU and the globe, and it has been amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Shortages will be brought on by many various points, together with manufacturing issues, shortages of uncooked supplies, elevated demand of medicines, distribution issues, labour disruptions and pure disasters.

Epstein-Barr virus. A current examine printed within the scientific journal Nature has demonstrated that Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) an infection is a set off for multiple-sclerosis (MS).

EBV, a human herpes virus, is in any other case well-known for inflicting mononucleosis (additionally referred to as Glandular Fever). In line with the Nature examine, EBV infects roughly 95% of people worldwide.

MS is an autoimmune illness originating within the central nervous system. Up to now there isn’t any settlement on the primary causes of MS, however it’s recognized that it may be influenced by each genetic and environmental components.

Viral infections is without doubt one of the environmental components. Many researchers have investigated EBV within the context of MS, and now researchers have proved that there’s a considerably elevated threat of MS after an an infection with EBV an infection, in comparison with these with out EBV antibodies. This helps a hyperlink between EBV an infection and MS.


Czechia affords fourth COVID-19 vaccine jab. Vaccination centres within the Czech Republic are actually providing the fourth COVID-19 shot to anybody over 18, which has led to excessive curiosity in Prague’s centres and even brief queues. By Aneta Zachová |


Dutch well being companies searching for extra urgency on monkeypox vaccinations. Well being companies need extra urgency for monkeypox vaccinations for at-risk teams because it has been over every week since Well being Minister Ernst Kuipers introduced vaccinations for these teams, but there was no replace on the matter, NL Occasions reported. By Sofia Stuart Leeson |

Dutch register first Centaurus variant case. The Netherlands registered its first case of Centaurus, the BA.2.75 COVID-19 variant that has already been present in different nations, the Nationwide Institute for Public Well being and the Atmosphere (RIVM) introduced. By Sofia Stuart Leeson |


Hospital opens in Spain for Irish sufferers on prolonged ready lists. Sufferers going through prolonged delays in Irish hospitals can now entry remedy overseas after a hospital with devoted capability opened in Spain on Thursday. By Molly Killeen |


Bulgaria says no to harsh COVID restrictions amid summer season wave. Bulgaria won’t impose extreme restrictions on residents and companies regardless of already being impacted by the European summer season COVID-19 wave, Prime Minister Kiril Petkov introduced Thursday on the briefing after the Council of Ministers assembly. By Krassen Nikolov |

28 July | World Hepatitis Day

31 August | Deadline for name for well being stakeholders to submit proposals for a brand new cycle of Thematic Networks, organised underneath the framework of the EU Well being Coverage Platform.

26-29 September | European Well being Discussion board Gastein

6-7 October | 18th Biosimilar Medicines Convention: Translating the Pharmaceutical Laws  into Entry & Affordability

15-19 October | thirty fifth Annual Congress of the European Affiliation of Nuclear Drugs

26 October | FEAM Annual Lecture on Digital Well being and AI: Advantages and Prices of Information Sharing within the EU

[Edited by Nathalie Weatherald]

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