Home / News / This winter could bring 'whole new' Covid strains: EU

New coronavirus variants are most likely to emerge this winter but existing vaccines should protect people from serious illness and death, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said on 3 September.

The following comment arrived after the 27-nation European Union prepares to roll out a booster campaign ahead of a feared wave of new coronavirus cases later this year.

"It will include a mix of newly-approved jabs adapted for the now dominant Omicron strain, and the original vaccines developed to fight the virus that first emerged in China in 2019," the EMA vaccines chief Marco Cavaleri said. However, it added that people should not wait for a specific vaccine.

ALSO READ: Covid-19: Immense efforts are on for next-generation vaccines, says top health expert

"There might be a completely new variant emerging that we are not able to predict today," Marco Cavaleri added.

Earlier on 1 September, the EMA approved vaccines by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna that are adapted to tackle the older BA.1 subvariant of Omicron.

According to details, the Pfizer version updated for the now-dominant BA.4 and 5 strains should be authorised in mid-September, while a similar Moderna jab is also in the pipeline.

"But these new Omicron-adapted jabs will largely be reserved for boosters for the elderly, the vulnerable, pregnant women and healthcare workers," Cavaleri said, adding most people will get the original vaccines that are designed to tackle the Wuhan strain of coronavirus.

"The original vaccines are still able to protect against severe Covid 19 disease and death, even if they are less effective at preventing infection," he said, adding, "It was 'not excluded' that new variants this winter might end up being closer to earlier Omicron strains that had now largely been overtaken by the BA.4 and 5 types."

With AFP inputs.

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