The first updated Covid-19 vaccines targeting Omicron’s BA.1 subvariant and the original strain of the coronavirus, which emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan in 2019, approved the European Medicines Agency, in order to ensure that they can be quickly launched across the EU. According to the European Medicines Agency, the new vaccines are intended to be given to people aged 12 and over who have already been vaccinated at least once against Covid-19.
In Hellasupdated vaccines are expected next month and the National Immunization Committee will issue vaccination guidelines.
An opinion from the European Medicines Agency is also expected in the coming weeks on the adapted vaccines Omicron BA.4 and BA.5.
Through the Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority (HERA), all member states have access to the adapted vaccines in the quantities needed to protect their citizens.
The logic of the specific vaccines, the assistant professor of Epidemiology and member of the Committee of Experts reports to APE-MPE Gikas Majorkinis, is similar to that of the updated flu vaccines. Depending on the most widespread strains of the previous year, the vaccines are updated, he added.
Regarding the adoption of measures for compulsory vaccination, Mr. Majorkinis said “at the moment we do not see pressure for compulsory vaccination and this is not a possible scenario. Obligation comes in the context of proportionality. In order to ensure the smooth operation of the NHS, the obligation comes”.
Over 50% of the population has contracted covid-19 in the summer
More than 50% of the population contracted covid-19 in the summer, with the predominant subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 of the ‘Omicron’ variant, estimates Gikas Majorkinis, speaking to APE-MPE, who explains that the specific strains seem to were pyrogenic, that is, they induce a stronger immune response than the BA.1 and BA.2 subvariants of ‘Omicron, “so we think that the immunity induced will be stronger.” It remains to be seen in practice”.
This particular pandemic will not be eradicated
He notes that we cannot yet confidently say that we are in an endemic phase, estimating that “we will have passed into a phase of predictable outbreaks, around April next year. This particular pandemic will not be eradicated, the coronavirus will not disappear. When we say that the pandemic will end, we mean that we will pass into a stage of symbiosis with the virus that we are already experiencing”.
He does not rule out the emergence of a new mutation by identifying it in the coming months, explaining that we should see the profile of the winter outbreak and the increase in transmissibility begins in October and November. In these months we expect a strain or sub-strain, last year we had Omicron at the end of December who came from South Africa”. Mr. Majorkinis explains that “pandemics are weakened by the gradual building of cross-immunity, that is, with vaccines and infection.” We had the advantage, he emphasizes, that in this particular pandemic vaccines were very quickly developed that speed up this process and millions of people have been saved in the process of transitioning to living with the virus.
Two months earlier the flu appeared
The coexistence of influenza and covid-19 it’s something that worries scientists. “It is difficult to assess at this moment what will happen to the NSS, but it is certainly something that concerns us for the pressure that is expected to be exerted in October-November,” he says.
The flu appeared two months earlier in the Southern Hemisphere which is now in winter and this has its explanation. According to Mr. Mayorkini, the intense wave is due to the fact that “in the last two years, the population has not been exposed to the flu, especially those under 50 years of age, where most are unvaccinated, so the population’s immunity has decreased as a result of the waves flu to come earlier and for this reason we can also see outbreaks in young populations during the summer”.
He believes that flu vaccination would make sense to start earlier, but the big issue is whether there is availability of updated flu vaccines.