The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has given the green light for the first Corona booster vaccines from BioNTech and Pfizer, as well as from Moderna, adapted to the omicron variant. The responsible committee of the EMA recommended the approval of the boosters that protect against both the omicron sub-variant BA.1. as well as against the original virus strain."
Both vaccines can be used in people aged 12 and over who have received at least one basic immunization against Covid-19. 'Adapted vaccines can extend protection against different variants and should therefore help maintain optimal protection against Covid-19 as the virus evolves,' the EMA said.
Approval by the EU Commission is considered a formality
The EMA's decision had been eagerly awaited with a view to booster vaccination campaigns. The final decision still lies with the European Commission. However, their approval is considered a formality. As a spokesman for the EU Commission told the dpa news agency, the Brussels authorities will accept the EMA's decision very quickly. Whether this will still happen today is an open question.
So far, vaccinations in the EU have continued with corona vaccines that were approved around 20 months ago. The vaccines that have now been approved are so-called bivalent corona vaccines, which are effective both against the original form of the corona virus and against BA.1, a subtype of the omicron variant of the corona virus. However, the newer omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 now predominate worldwide. They had caused the latest corona waves in Europe and the USA in the past few months. According to the EMA, a corona vaccine from BioNTech/Pfizer tailored to these two subtypes is expected to be approved in autumn.
Lauterbach: New corona vaccines "a quantum leap"
Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach called for vaccination in view of the booster approvals. "Vaccinations with the new vaccines can start next week," explains the SPD politician. "Now is the best time to close vaccination gaps for the fall." Lauterbach describes the approval of the adapted BA.1 vaccines as a "quantum leap" in the fight against the pandemic: "Vaccines can now be used that are very effective against all previously known virus variants."
Lauterbach had announced that the first 14 million doses with the adapted booster vaccinations from BioNTech/Pfizer and Moderna should be delivered in Germany in the two weeks starting September 5th. If the EU Commission then also approves the vaccine adapted to the sub-variants BA.4/BA.5, Germany will also be supplied “very quickly” by the Mainz-based manufacturer BioNTech and its US partner Pfizer with a first tranche of 9.5 million doses .
US authorities clear the way for omicron boosters
Yesterday, the US drug agency FDA granted emergency use authorization for the BA.4/BA.5 vaccines from the Mainz-based company BioNTech and its US partner Pfizer, as well as the US manufacturer Moderna. The BioNTech drug is approved from the age of twelve and the Moderna vaccine from the age of 18.
The Moderna vaccine against the original virus type and BA.1 has been approved in Great Britain since mid-August.