Adapted Covid vaccines advised for winter use in Europe

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said that individuals in high-risk groups and healthcare workers should be prioritised when the latest adapted Covid-19 vaccines are rolled out across the continent before autumn.

These steps should be taken to prevent healthcare systems from becoming overburdened, the ECDC emphasized.

According to the health body, Comirnaty Original/Omicron BA.1 and Spikevax Bivalent Original/Omicron BA.1 have recently been authorized for use in the European Union by the European Medicines Agency, reports Xinhua news agency.

Both provide better protection against the Omicron BA.1 variant and other lineages than the vaccines currently in use, it said.

“With the newly authorized adapted Cocid-19 vaccines, member states will now have a wider range of choices to roll out autumn/winter Covid-19 immunization campaigns aimed at protecting the most vulnerable groups, and boost their immunity against the most recent emerging variants,” said ECDC Director Andrea Ammon.

The new vaccines have been approved for use as booster doses for individuals aged 12 and older.

However, people over 60, those with underlying medical conditions and pregnant women, residents and staff in long-term care facilities should be first in line, ECDC said.

Meanwhile, healthcare workers should also be prioritized for additional booster doses.

“Timely vaccination and deployment of boosters ahead of a potential autumn and winter surge of Covid-19 cases is essential for protecting people and stopping health systems from being overwhelmed,” ECDC said.

The vaccines that are currently in use still play an important role, Ammon said.

“As these new vaccines are currently approved for use as booster doses only, the original ones remain essential to increase the vaccination coverage,” she said.

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