Medical regulators will fast-track COVID vaccines for mutations, similar to how seasonal flu shots are developed and released
There are currently a number of COVID mutations circulating in the world, with one even originating in Kent. These mutations are generally eight times as infectious as the original virus, making them a threat to any population attempting to control the outbreak.
The mutations are occurring in countries that also don’t have access to the vaccines yet, with South Africa even turning away a vaccine shipment that did not work effectively enough on the local COVID variant.
The “HERA Incubator” programme is set to receive atleast €30 million from Horizon 2020, with a further €120 million from Horizon Europe, to dissect how mutations are spreading across the EU.
What new vaccines are being created to fight mutations?
Drugmakers are creating booster shots to address the power of mutations, as vaccines in general are taking a 10% hit in efficacy against them. Virologists suggest that COVID vaccines will become yearly necessities for populations alongside flu shots, as the virus continues to evolve.
The approval process for COVID vaccines has been lengthier than the one facing a flu shot. Now, the ACCESS consortium (a medical regulatory coalition via the UK, Australia, Canada, Singapore, and Switzerland) are introduced new guidance for how regulators could approve modified COVID vaccines quicker than they have been approved so far.
How long will the new medicine approval process take?
There is no given timeline with the new guidelines.
However, flu shots are approved in time to be manufactured annually and in time to inoculate the vulnerable population. The timeline for COVID vaccines against mutations is expected to be significantly shorter.
The vaccine makers would be expected to still prove their work hits the expected quality requirements. If Pfizer or AstraZeneca were to make a booster shot, they could also provide their former clinical trials and real-world use as evidence that the vaccines are safe to use in humans.
‘Get effective vaccines to the public’
MHRA Chief Scientific Officer, Dr Christian Schneider said: “Our priority is to get effective vaccines to the public in as short a time as possible, without compromising on safety. Should any modifications to authorised COVID-19 vaccines be necessary, this regulatory approach should help to do just that.”
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