(CNN Spanish) — The subvariant of omicron BA.5, able to evade the immunity provided by vaccines and previous covid-19 infections, was responsible for about 80% of the new cases in the United States last week, according to official data. Vaccine makers are working on boosters that can cope with it, but when will they start rolling out? The indications point to the boreal autumn.
BA.5 caused 78% of new infections last week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), while nearby BA.4 was responsible for 13% of the cases. cases.
The rise of BA.5 in recent months — with three key changes to its spike proteins that help it circumvent immunity — has been matched by a rise in cases, hospitalizations and deaths in the United States and also in Europe .
How and when: the keys to “bivalent reinforcement” against variants BA.4 and BA.5
fda advised vaccine manufacturers that when they update the booster doses they add to the mix a component to attack the sub-variants BA.4 and BA.5 of omicron. The result would be a reinforcement that is known as “bivalent” or “two-component”.
The advice from officials is for “modified vaccines to potentially be used beginning in early to mid-autumn 2022,” Dr. Peter Marks, director of the Center for Biological Evaluation and Research at the University of California, said in a statement three weeks ago. FDA.
In a recent interview with MSNBCDr. Ashish Jha, coordinator of the White House covid-19 response team, referred to the availability of effective reinforcements against omicron for “autumn or winter”.
On the other hand, the FDA did not advise changing the primary vaccination of those people who have not yet received any doses. In this regard, he said that the formula that was created to combat the version of the virus that initially emerged in 2019 provides a base of protection against severe symptoms, even with the dominant variants in circulation.
Don’t wait to give you a boost
Which brings us to the key message from the Government at this time: don’t wait to give yourself the available reinforcement. Jha has been emphatic about it, especially with a message to Americans 50 and older: “If you haven’t had a vaccine this year, do it. It could save your life.”
In fact, the Government has stressed that even if you receive a dose now you can also get the specific vaccine against omicron when it becomes available, they are not mutually exclusive.
Companies get ready for the new vaccine
Pfizer and BioNTech have already submitted data to the FDA showing that two boosters targeting the omicron variant showed a substantially superior immune response to the currently available vaccine. Its preliminary studies suggest that it could neutralize the BA.4 and BA.5 variants. In a statement to CNN, a Pfizer spokesperson said they would be “prepared to distribute a vaccine around the world in early October 2022” assuming the approvals to do so are in place.
Moderna also submitted details of a booster that has the original vaccine component and another against the omicron variant, though not specifically BA.4 and BA.5. However, the lab said they have a “strong” response against the subvariants.
Novavax, which recently received emergency authorization from the FDA, has said its vaccine elicited a “broad” immune response to currently circulating variants, including the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants.
an alternate path
As the update to injectable vaccines progresses, scientists are working on a different approach: vaccines administered as nasal sprays or tablets that would build defenses in the mouth, nose and throat, the front lines of battle.
The goal is to prevent the virus from replicating in the nose, Dr. Ellen Foxman, an immunobiologist at Yale School of Medicine, told CNN, saying this solution would be like “the holy grail.”
If it works, there is hope that mucosal immunity will develop against new variants. However, there is a long way to go to be done so that this solution can become a reality.
With reporting from CNN’s Brenda Goodman and Jen Christensen.