Covid: will we have new generation vaccines in 2023? –

The covid emergency in China has rekindled concerns about the possible appearance of new variants other than Omicron. The country that decided for the “free all” after three years of zero-covid strategy it is now overwhelmed by a million new infections and at least five thousand confirmed deaths a day.

The pandemic has taught us that what happens in one part of the world hardly stays in those borders for long. How will we protect ourselves from SARS-CoV-2 in the coming year? Will 2023 deliver new anti-covid vaccines to humanity? Probably not.

No revolution in sight. Given the widespread diffusion of the new coronavirus, we will need to immunize ourselves from covid for many more years, but the coming months will not see important news on the prevention front.

We will have to continue to use the already excellent vaccines we have and improve their distribution, given that just under a third of the global population has yet to receive a single dose.

LESS VACCINES. In 2023 we will also be able to count on fewer doses of vaccines: by staying to estimates by the British statistical analysis company Airfinity, sales of anti-covid preparations have dropped globally from 5.7 billion doses in 2021 to 3 billion doses in 2022, down to 1.6 billion doses for 2023. Why?

At least before the dramatic surge in infections in China, the situation was perceived as less urgent. The countries that produce their own vaccines remain outside the calculation, such as China, which, albeit with less effective formulations, aims to increase the vaccination coverage of its elderly population, which remains at 40%.

New versions of what’s already there. As explained by New Scientistin the rest of the world Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna will continue to dominate the market with the latest version of their boosters, which targets the spike proteins of the original version of the virus and two subvariants of Omicron.

Depending on the variants that emerge, it is possible that these vaccines will come again updated in anticipation of next fall’s immunization campaign, but we won’t see any other big changes.

What are you working on. There are currently 50 anti-covid vaccines approved worldwide and 250 in testing in about 80 countries. One possible new approach is to create a vaccine that can provide broader protection against many potential variants.

Pfizer is experimenting with one that should elicit a T-cell response against several coronavirus proteins, and not just an antibody reaction to the spike protein.

T cells usually provide broader and more lasting protection than antibodies, but this vaccine is unlikely to be approved any time soon.

Stuck in the nose. A second approach aims instead to hinder the transmission of the virus by blocking it at the level of the mucous membranes of the upper respiratory tract, for example with intranasal vaccines. For now, four have been approved between China, India, Iran and Russia, on which there is not yet much scientific literature.

A spray version of the Oxford vaccine has been tested in the UK without success, and an intranasal COVID-19 vaccine is unlikely to arrive in Europe and the US in 2023.

Why is it slow? After the pandemic emergency in the strict sense, the drug approval procedures returned to standard times; moreover, having already very effective vaccines against hospitalization and serious illness, the new candidates entering the market must demonstrate that they are better than those on the market. In short, the procedures for approving new preparations, having reached this point, become more complex.

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Covid: will we have new generation vaccines in 2023? –

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