Vaccines adapted to omicron arrive: when will Spain begin to put these reinforcements and to whom

  • The EMA has given its approval, this Thursday, to the new Pfizer and Moderna vaccines against omicron BA.1: they will arrive in a few days

  • The president of the Spanish Association of Vaccinology, Amós García, does not believe that they can be vaccinated “before the second fortnight of September or the first of October”

  • The EMA could approve new, more up-to-date booster vaccines in a few weeks: should we wait for them?

It was something highly anticipated, facing the fourth booster dose which will be administered this fall. Once the EMA has approved the vaccines produced by pharmaceutical companies: When will they be available in Spain? When will they start inoculating? Who will be the first to receive this new reinforcement?

These are questions that we try to answer in this article. And there is one more. Because the vaccines that have been given the go-ahead are those designed with the original variant of omicron, ie BA.1. But that is no longer the one that circulates currently. She was displaced by BA.2, which was later displaced by subvariants BA.4-BA.5. Both Pfizer and Moderna have also developed updated vaccines with these subvariants. And in fact, the FDA has just authorized them in the US, this Wednesday. Would it be worth waiting for the EMA to approve them?

When will the new vaccines arrive?

There is no specific date, but if we talk to the health authorities it is clear that It’s a matter of days, not weeks. From the Spanish Medicines Agency they explain that the The European Commission “will grant authorization in the next few hours so that they can be distributed in all EU member states.

The Minister of Health, Carolina Dariasassured this Thursday in an interview with that it is “very feasible” that the fourth dose will be given when “the vaccines adapted to variants” arrive. The authorization of these vaccines has already arrived. Y “by contract is that the week after the authorization we would have vaccines available, from Pfizer and Moderna”, explains Darias in the interview. If so, we would be talking about the fact that at the end of next week, these vaccines should already be available in Spain.

The President of the Spanish Association of Vaccinology, Amós García, does not believe that it can be vaccinated until “the second half of September or the first of October. Before, I see it very complicated. First the vaccines have to arrive, then they have to be distributed throughout the country and then, reassemble the entire vaccination infrastructure. That it was already armed, but it has to be tightened again, ”he explains to NIUS.

Pending Public Health Commission

What it does seem is that the vaccines will arrive in a matter of days, not weeks. Health sources recall that it is what was announced at the time, in early September, “and it seems that it will be fulfilled.” But as to vaccination, prefer not to talk about specific dates and refer to what the Public Health Commission decides, who is the one who must approve the new deadlines and strategies. That commission is not even convened yet.

It must be taken into account, however, that once the vaccines are available, the procedure to follow is the same as with the previous punctures. I mean, very fast. So it is likely that in a few days they will begin to inoculate themselves. If they did arrive at the end of next week, it would not be ruled out that the next week they could start vaccinations.

But Health insists: we have to wait. They remember that these vaccines have just been approved and that among the experts of the Vaccine Conference -the one that advises the Public Health Commission- “There are different technical positions on when it is more effective to put it on.” And that is something that will have to be agreed upon before approving the new vaccination strategy.

Next Monday the Interterritorial Health Council – made up of Health and the Autonomous Communities – is scheduled to meet and a decision may also come from there in this regard.

Who will get these updated vaccinations?

It is not clear when, therefore, but yes who will be able to get this booster dose adapted to omicron. The Public Health Commission already authorized, last Juneinoculate a fourth dose to the sectors of the population most vulnerable to covid. “Starting with those over 80 years of age and people who are in residencesand going down by age to those over 60 ”, recall Health sources.

Vaccines against omicron BA.1, not against BA.5

The last question we posed at the beginning of this article arises because what is now approved are vaccines made with the Wuhan strain and with omicron BA.1. But this is not the omicron that is circulating now. In fact, It hasn’t been for a long time.

“We knew that BA.1 had a 70% leak of the antibodies generated by the vaccine, but BA.5 has almost 100% exhaust. The new vaccine has to be adapted as much as possible to the new variants”warned then José Gómez Rial, immunologist at the Clinical Hospital of Santiago. “It is necessary to verify that the vaccine that is in development is really effective against BA.5, and I know that Pfizer and Moderna are testing it right now,” he said.

Vaccinate now or wait?

Well, those trials are over and Both Pfizer and Moderna have already presented their new vaccines adapted to BA.5. The FDA has authorized them in the United States this Wednesday. Should we wait for these more up-to-date vaccines or inoculate the authorized ones with omicron BA.1?

AEMPS sources assure that the EMA is already studying these booster vaccines designed with BA.5 and that their authorization will arrive soon. We are talking about weeks, not months, they explain. Who authorizes is the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP), which meets once a month. The next scheduled meeting is September 12, because this one has been an extraordinary meeting. Then there would be another one in October. In some of them, they say, these vaccines against omicron BA.5 could be authorized.

Amos Garcia warns of the same: “This authorization and the next one will be very close, it’s a matter of weeks.” Should we wait? The vaccinologist believes that “it will depend on how the pandemic is. If the virus rises again, you have to vaccinate as quickly as possible, with whatever is available, as long as it has a reasonable margin of protection against BA.5”, which is the one circulating now. “But If the epidemiological situation continues as it is now, it would be good to wait for the BA vaccine.5”.


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