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WHO: COVID vaccines may need to be updated for protection against future variants

WHO: COVID vaccines may need to be updated for protection against future variants
January 11
22:40 2022

The World Health Organisation (WHO) Technical Advisory Group on COVID-19 Vaccine Composition (TAG-CO-VAC) says current vaccines may need to be updated to ensure they are effective against Omicron and future variants of the coronavirus.

In a statement on Tuesday, the technical group, made up of independent experts, said it would consider a change in vaccination composition, adding that shots need to be more effective in protecting against infection.

“The TAG-CO-VAC considers that COVID-19 vaccines that have high impact on prevention of infection and transmission, in addition to the prevention of severe disease and death, are needed and should be developed,” the statement reads.

“Until such vaccines are available, and as the SARS-CoV-2 virus evolves, the composition of current COVID-19 vaccines may need to be updated, to ensure that COVID-19 vaccines continue to provide WHO-recommended levels of protection against infection and disease by VOCs, including Omicron and future variants.

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“COVID-19 vaccines need to be based on strains that are genetically and antigenically close to the circulating SARS-CoV-2 variant(s).

“In addition to protection against severe disease and death, be more effective in protection against infection, thus lowering community transmission and the need for stringent and broad-reaching public health and social measures; elicit immune responses that are broad, strong, and long-lasting in order to reduce the need for successive booster doses.”

The group also said with available COVID-19 vaccines, the current focus remains on reducing severe disease and death, as well as protecting health systems.

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The group also said it supports urgent and broad access to current COVID vaccines for priority populations worldwide.

“In practical terms, while some countries may recommend booster doses of vaccine, the immediate priority for the world is accelerating access to the primary vaccination, particularly for groups at greater risk of developing severe disease,” the statement reads.

“With near- and medium-term supply of the available vaccines, the need for equity in access to vaccines across countries to achieve global public health goals, programmatic considerations including vaccine demand, and evolution of the virus, a vaccination strategy based on repeated booster doses of the original vaccine composition is unlikely to be appropriate or sustainable.”

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