The EMA still does not know if the vaccines lose effectiveness against the Omicron strain

After having the approval of the European capitals, the Community Executive has approved this Tuesday that the covid certificate expires after nine months, as a way to boost the booster doses . This means that, once this period of time has elapsed, those who have been immunized with the full schedule but have not received the third puncture will have to undergo restrictions such as quarantines or PCR to be able to move freely within the community club since the document will leave to be valid. This limit of nine months (270 days) will begin to count from the date of the second injection , except in the case of patients whose regimen consisted of a single puncture.

Although the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has recommended the booster dose six months later to counteract the decline in immunity, Brussels has decided to allow three more months for national public authorities to adapt their respective vaccination campaigns.

With this step, Brussels wants to prevent a new wave of national measures from putting into question the very existence of this certificate, the maxim of which is to facilitate travel within the community. Precisely in recent weeks, Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Italy have implemented, without consulting with the rest of the partners, the obligation to present a PCR test for all European travelers , including those vaccinated, due to the fear of the Omicron variant. In the text of conclusions adopted last week by European leaders, it is requested thatany restrictive measure is based on “objective criteria and does not harm the functioning of the internal market or disproportionately impede free movement between European states or travel to the EU” .

Despite this, Brussels considers that this initiative has been a success, since 807 million of these certificates have been issued since last summer and the European model has become the standard for the rest of the world, since a total of 60 countries from the five continents have joined this initiative. The proposal became a reality after pressure from tourist countries such as Greece and Spain , which wanted to encourage travel for the past summer season, although many European countries have decided to use this tool as a safe-conduct so that vaccinated people can access establishments. of hotels, cinemas, theaters and gyms, among others.Although this validity period only refers to the use of this certificate to travel within the EU, Brussels recommends that the rest of its functions be aligned with this guideline.

At the moment it is unknown if after the third puncture it will be necessary to establish a new expiration period . The new regulations will come into effect on February 1 so that European countries have the time to make the appropriate technological changes.

The European health authorities still do not know if the current vaccines lose effectiveness against the new variant, of which it is only clear that it is more transmissible than the previous strains. The EMA, for the moment, is still studying whether it will be necessary to develop new versions of existing vaccines.

As the director of the agency, Emer Cooke, explained this Tuesday, “there is still no answer on whether an adapted vaccine with a different composition is needed to address this or any other emerging variation”, although this also means that “we will not have to start from zero with the composition of the updated vaccine ”.

As revealed by the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, in the extension of the contracts with Pfizer and Moderna a clause has been included that obliges laboratories to adapt their antidotes to the new strains within 100 days . The EMA still does not know if the vaccines lose effectiveness against the Omicron strain.

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