COVID-19: Still on your Radar? Current vaccine approval status and what’s on the horizon

It is just over 2 years and 9 months since the WHO declared the COVID-19 outbreak a public health emergency of international concern.

In the EU we now have a variety of options to protect us from COVID-19. There are as follows:

Notably, the three initial vaccines that were granted ‘Conditional marketing authorisations’ in December 2020 and January 2021 (Comirnaty – developed by BioNTech & Pfizer, Spikevax – developed by Moderna and Vaxzevria – developed by AstraZeneca) were all issued as ‘Standard marketing authorisations’ in October 2022.

  • Four adaptive vaccines
    Adapted vaccines are intended to provide broader protection against different virus variants following initial vaccination. They include:
  • Comirnaty Original/Omicron BA.1
  • Comirnaty Original/Omicron BA.4-5
  • Spikevax bivalent Original/Omicron BA.1
  • Spikevax bivalent Original/Omicron BA.4-5

All these authorisations were just recently issued by the EMA, in September and October 2022.

Note that at the end of October 2022, the EMA published a useful visual summary of COVID-19 vaccines, including their platforms, strains, uses and target populations.

The majority were developed specifically to treat COVID-19. However, some were already marketed for other indications but have also been proven to be effective in treating COVID-19. These include several pharmaceutical forms i.e., tablets, injections and solutions for infusions.

Update on potential new COVID-19 vaccines:

With the continuous emergence of variants, it is difficult to keep vaccines fully equipped to match the variants in circulation. However, developing further adaptive vaccines will help to improve neutralisation against circulating strains.

The EMA are still reviewing two other adaptive vaccines which target other strains of the virus. These include the Sanofi Pasteur vaccine called Vidprevtyn containing the beta strain. A possible CHMP opinion of this vaccine is expected at the November meeting.
Another vaccine under review contains both alpha and beta strains. The EMA is still waiting on additional data from the company before a decision on this adaptive vaccine can be made.

Updates and comments on COVID-19 treatments:

With the rise of new omicron sub-variants, currently available monoclonal antibodies will lack activity. Due to this, the EMA is exploring, with developers and international regulators, pathways for rapidly approving new monoclonal antibodies based on an established platform that could be rapidly deployed to tackle emerging variants.

Currently authorised antiviral treatments such as Paxlovid or Veklury, don’t target the spike protein but target other parts of the virus. This makes it more likely that they will remain effective as other viral proteins are less effective. However, it will be important to confirm their activity is not impacted by all these variants that are still emerging.

New antivirals that can be administered orally are currently under development and may provide a wider range of antiviral agents for treating COVID-19 patients in the future.

For further details contact us.

Written by

Claire Brown

Claire Brown