Next-Generation COVID-19 Vaccines are Needed

Vaccine development challenges posed by SARS-CoV-2 evolution
Vaccine production
by Gerd Altmann
Silver Spings (Precision Vaccinations)

Despite the availability of safe and effective vaccines, the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus continues to circulate across the globe as 2022 comes to an end.

The existing COVID-19 vaccines have had a profoundly positive effect during the pandemic, reducing hospitalization and related fatalities.

Problems with vaccine hesitancy present throughout the pandemic continue today, wrote researchers with the US Food and Drug Administration and Brown University.

However, the seemingly ceaseless progression of increasingly transmissible variants, recently including BF.7 and BQ.1.1, presents a significant challenge for medical interventions, particularly vaccines, commented these researchers in an article published by The JAMA Network on December 9, 2022.

Attempting to address the continued genetic evolution of SARS-CoV-2, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized bivalent boosters (original plus BA.4/BA.5 Omicron variant) for the two available mRNA COVID-19 vaccines to address the waves of disease leading to hospitalization and death.

These updated vaccines may also reduce the amount of symptomatic disease and associated healthcare use.

However, introducing these bivalent boosters likely only represents a temporary measure until variants emerge that necessitate additional booster vaccination or modification of the current generation of vaccines.

Simply updating the existing vaccine constructs with new variant sequences or even making trivalent or quadrivalent vaccines covering several variants is not likely to provide the depth and breadth of protection needed to interrupt viral transmission during a prolonged period.

What we learn as we address the challenges posed by SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 about virology and immunology, along with the accompanying advances in technology and manufacturing that will come from developing the next generation of vaccines, may broadly benefit public health during our current era of constantly emerging and reemerging infectious diseases.

The unedited article is posted at this JAMA link.

Corresponding Author: Peter W. Marks, MD, Ph.D., Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, US FDA ([email protected]).

The FDA's Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee has scheduled a digital meeting for January 26, 2023. This meeting is open to the public via YouTube. The Docket Number is FDA-2022-N-2810.

FDA-approved and authorized vaccines are listed at PrecisionVaccinations.com/COVID19.

Disclosures: This JAMA article was manually curated for mobile readers.

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Donald Hackett