How will the vaccination campaign against the Omicron variant work?

At a time when the eighth wave of the Covid-19 epidemic is emerging, the Minister of Health AnnouncedIt is this Tuesday that the new vaccines, also effective against Omicron, would be available in early October. “As of October 3, we will have this new bivalent vaccine available in pharmacies, in vaccination centers, that is, this vaccine that vaccinates you against the wild strain but also against Omicronsaid François Braun. This is what you need to know.

Who is worried?

This vaccination campaign will refer “fragile people, over 60 years old, health professionals and people who are in contact with fragile people” for which it is necessary to “a booster dose”, François Braun underlined. This therefore includes, for example, pregnant women, children and adolescents at risk or immunosuppressed people. The general population is not a priority but “Of course, if you want to get vaccinated, you can,” added the Minister.

On the other hand, it is better not to wait and get vaccinated with the available vaccines if you are at risk and are not up to date with the recommended booster dose (three or six months depending on your age and the date of the last injection or infection), they insist. health authorities.

What vaccines are these?

On October 3, the only bivalent vaccine available at this stage will be Moderna Wuhan/BA.1. In total, the Haute Autorité Sanitaire (HAS) has recommended and authorized three vaccines, two developed by Pfizer/Bio NTech and the third by Moderna. They have recently been validated by the European Medicines Agency. Orders have been placed with the French Sanofi and Spanish Hipra laboratories. 576,000 doses would be available at start-up.

How does a “bivalent” vaccine work?

As a reminder, the Covid-19 disease virus, SARS-CoV-2, is capable of mutating like other diseases. The first vaccines were developed from the initial strain, the so-called Wuhan strain. Since then, variants have been appearing, such as the Delta or the Omicron. Hence the need for pharmaceutical groups to adapt vaccines to these new strains and create bivalent vaccines.

The purpose of these vaccines is to educate the immune system to recognize multiple attackers. The Pfizer BioNTech laboratory has thus adapted its original vaccine by creating an Omicron BA.1 serum, which contains both the messenger RNA of the original virus and the specific messenger RNA of the variant. Two vaccines have been developed in this way and approved.

Modern biotech also used the same process. Its “Original/Omicron BA.1” vaccine was approved in early September by the European Medicines Agency, which considers it to be effective. In addition to Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech, other bivalent vaccines are in the works. This is particularly the case of a vaccine candidate from the French and British laboratories Sanofi and GSK directed at the Delta and Beta strains.

Despite the existence of these bivalent vaccines, the High Health Authority recalls that current (monovalent) vaccines are effective against severe forms of Covid-19.

Where is the Covid-19 epidemic?

“We have seen for three weeks a resumption of the circulation of the virus“, the Minister of Health indicated this Tuesday. The incidence rate is currently 346 per 100,000 inhabitants, and the reproduction rate R is 1.31. More than 18% of the tests carried out are positive.

The virus currently circulating is BA.5, a subvariant of Omicron, already known to scientists. At the moment, recalls François Braun, there is no “new ways but let’s be vigilant”.

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