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Coronavirus vaccine. New vaccine to protect against omicron. Experts: it may arrive in Poland late

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A new vaccine against coronavirus, offering better protection against omicron variants, may reach Poland later than the Ministry of Health would like – experts asked about it by tvn24.pl forecast. Therefore, it is better to vaccinate the entire population with preparations available in Poland today, believes Dr. Leszek Borkowski, MD, president of the Together in Disease Foundation, former president of the Office for Registration of Medicinal Products, Medical Devices and Biocidal Products.

“Everything indicates that the fourth dose for the wider population, at least 18+, will be available at the beginning of September” – wrote the Minister of Health on August 3 Adam Niedzielski on social media.

He did not mention that we are talking about a new, announced vaccine that better protects against omicron variants – the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 currently dominant in the world. At the end of June, Niedzielski said, however, that two vaccine manufacturers declared that the production of these preparations should start soon and that after obtaining approval for distribution, Poles will also be able to use them – perhaps in September.

According to experts interviewed by tvn24.pl, these forecasts are currently optimistic, and not necessarily realistic.

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The fourth dose is not for everyone yet

A wider population has a chance to get vaccinated with the fourth dose, but a preparation available today and effective mainly in protection against the older Wuhan virus variants.

From 22 July, the fourth dose of the vaccine, i.e. the second booster dose, also known as the second booster, can be taken by people over 60 years of age after 120 days from taking the first booster dose, as well as people over 12 years of age with reduced immunity after 120 days after taking first booster dose.

The change also applies to the first booster dose. People aged 12+ can be vaccinated with it after 90, not 150 days as before. Before July 22, the fourth dose was available to people aged 80+ and immunocompromised adults.

Other age groups have yet to wait. The ministry would like them to adopt a new preparation as the fourth dose, which will also protect against omicron variants. The available vaccines are effective against the Wuhan variant that first appeared in the world, and protect about 80 percent of the alpha, gamma, and beta variants we’ve known since August 2020.

The new vaccines, manufactured by Moderna and Pfizer, will also protect against omicron (currently mainly in the form of BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants).

Moderny vaccine has already been registered by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Pfizer is completing clinical trials of its preparation.

– The BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants are antigenically so different from the original omicron that our immune response will be somewhat completely new. The almost complete abolition of anti-pandemic restrictions and the distinct difference between the omicron BA.4 and BA.5 coronavirus sub-variants are the cause of another wave of infections, believes Leszek Borkowski, PhD in pharmaceutical sciences, president of the Together in Disease Foundation, former president of the Office for Registration of Medicinal Products, Medical Devices and Biocidal Products.

When is the chance for a new vaccine?

However, in order for a new preparation to be approved for use in the European Union, it must pass the verification of the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

And this – as experts point out – is not the fastest. – Bureaucratic procedures at the EMA last several weeks and I doubt that the new preparation could appear in Poland at the beginning of September – says Dr. Tomasz Dzieiątkowski, a virologist from the Medical University of Warsaw (MUW).

The expert is inclined to the opinion that the first vaccinations with the new preparation will be performed in October at the earliest.

The availability of new preparations may also be a problem. As Dziecitkowski notes, the two companies that produced the new vaccines consider two non-European countries as priorities. In the case of the American Moderna it is USAwhich co-financed the work on the development of the preparation. On the other hand, in the case of – also American – Pfizer, priority may be given Israelin clinical trials of the fourth dose. – Only after meeting the needs of these countries, companies will direct deliveries to the European Union – the expert believes.

There are whispers in ministerial corridors that Pfizer may not be willing to deliver vaccines to Poland after the Ministry of Health used the force majeure clause in April and informed the European Commission and Pfizer that it was refusing to receive further contracted vaccines against COVID-19, and what hence – paying for them.

However, according to experts with whom tvn24.pl talks, this thesis is not supported in reality: – Pfizer is a commercial company and as such it will definitely want to earn. As a rule, pharmaceutical companies are also apolitical, so I cannot imagine that she would refuse to supply a new vaccine to Poland. Especially that the purchases of vaccines against COVID-19 are carried out in a central procedure by the European Union, which ensures their fair distribution proportional to the number of inhabitants – says Professor Marcin Czechformer Deputy Minister of Health for Drug Policy, President of the Polish Pharmacoeconomic Society.

However, he also does not expect deliveries of a new vaccine at the beginning of September. – The procedures at EMA are meticulous and it seems that Poland will receive the new preparation much later – predicts the Czech professor.

Also Leszek Borkowski, doctor of pharmaceutical sciences, believes that we will have to wait for the new vaccine: – Before the new vaccines containing the BA.4 and BA.5 component reach Poland, some time will pass, which is to be safe through the use of another booster. I recommend that you do not postpone the fourth vaccination. Will it be a fifth? I will answer this: today it seems very likely – believes Dr. Leszek Borkowski.

Main photo source: Shutterstock

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