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Data are insufficient to recommend bivalent vaccines, says WHO

There is not yet enough data to be able to recommend vaccines against Covid-19 specifically targeting the Omicron variant compared to the original strains. This is what experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday.

Four variant-containing mRNA vaccines, which include Omicron BA.1 or BA.4/5 subvariants in combination with the parent virus, have been licensed for use as booster doses. But these vaccines matched to the dominant variant may only offer a “tiny additional benefit,” the SAGE expert group said. “The currently available data are not sufficient to support a recommendation in favor of booster doses containing bivalent variants”, compared to doses of vaccines based on the original virus; the experts added in a statement.

Recommendations ‘must be really evidence-based’

SAGE executive secretary Joachim Hombach pointed out that experts had found that bivalent vaccines had shown “slightly greater neutralization of the Omicron variant”. “It’s a relatively modest effect that we can see in the lab,” he said. “What we cannot do is associate these laboratory measures with an increase in protection” because the data that would demonstrate this increased effectiveness are not yet available.

“Because our recommendations have to be really evidence-based, we cannot issue a statement in favor of these vaccines”; concluded Dr. Joachim Hombach. “These vaccines are fine, but what is much more important” for protection against Covid-19 “is that you get vaccinated”, whether the product is modified for Omicron or not.

As of October 2, more than 615 million confirmed cases of Covid-19 and more than 6.5 million deaths have been reported to WHO worldwide.

Source: 20minutes

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