It seems like endless variants of Covid19 are discovered every day, indeed it is the nature of a virus to change and respond to environment. While many Covid19 variants are tackled by our approved vaccines, some will need a bit more attention and potentially a booster-shot!
Today the MHRA produced guidance that confirmed that all authorised Covid19 vaccines which are modified in response to new variants will not need a brand new approval or to be processed through lengthy clinical trials (but trials will still take place). This will help us all get the right medicine much quicker and hopefully nip some of the more damaging variants of the virus before they spread across the population.
MHRA Chief Scientific Officer, Dr Christian Schneider said:
“Our priority is to get effective vaccines to the public in as short a time as possible, without compromising on safety. Should any modifications to authorised COVID-19 vaccines be necessary, this regulatory approach should help to do just that.
“The announcement today also demonstrates the strength of our international partnerships with other regulators and how our global work can help ensure faster access to life-saving vaccines in the UK and around the world.
“The public should be confident that no vaccine would be approved unless the expected high standards of safety, quality and effectiveness are met.”
While the approach may sound a little worrying, it is just the same as the annual flu jab, focussing on the same primary goal but tweaked each year to account for the changes and seasonality issues caused by the various flu strains which change often. The key difference is there will not be waiting period to see if people in trials become infected with the new variants but of course safety evidence is and always will be required before final approval.
Expect more on this soon as the scientists, researchers and NHS develop and prepare for new vaccinations to beat the Covid19 variants, maximise work with international partners and manufacturers to tackle the disease once and for all.