The novel coronavirus vaccine appears to work well against the Pyrola subtype

Experts say that one of the new COVID-19 vaccines that could be released as soon as next week appears to offer strong protection against the latest emerging subtype, a reassuring sign as manufacturers and public health officials work to stay on top of which vaccines are still circulating. around. Corona Virus.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is concerned that the unusually high number of mutations seen in BA.2.86, nicknamed Pyrola, may make the strain able to more easily infect those who have previously had coronavirus or received an older vaccine formulation.

Wednesday saw the arrival of the updated vaccine data that doctors had been eagerly awaiting. The results were promising.

This year’s version of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine “generates a robust human immune response against highly mutated BA.2.86,” Dr. Stephen Hogg, president of the Massachusetts-based drugmaker, said in a statement. “This data confirms that our updated COVID-19 vaccine will continue to be an important tool of protection as we approach the fall vaccination season.”

Clinical trial data indicates that the prospective formulation generated a strong antibody response against circulating variants, including BA.2.86, according to the vaccine maker.

The upcoming fall vaccines are designed against the version of the coronavirus that was prevalent earlier this year: XBB.1.5, informally known as Kraken. But questions have been raised about how much protection this combination might provide against the more mutated BA.2.86.

“It’s really good news,” Dr. Peter Chen Hong, an infectious disease expert at the University of California, San Francisco, said of Moderna’s data. “I think it should be reassuring to people.”

There were early concerns that BA.2.86 might be more immunologically elusive than even earlier members of the sprawling Omicron family of coronaviruses. But so far, this tension has not constituted a clear path to dominance, either domestically or globally.

BA.2.86 is not yet widespread enough to be included in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) variant tracker. To get there, the variant must cover more than 1% of cases nationally over a period of at least two weeks.

As of last week, there have been no cases of BA.2.86 in California, “and at this point, there is no evidence that this strain causes more serious disease,” according to Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer.

New York-based Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech are also planning an updated COVID-19 vaccination, as is Maryland-based Novavax.

On a national level, the most dominant Omicron sub-variant at the moment is EG.5, also known as Eris. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data shows that this strain accounted for an estimated 21.5% of infections nationwide from Aug. 20 to Saturday. Experts say the new fall vaccines are expected to work well against EG.5.

And doctors widely expect that newly updated COVID-19 vaccines could be available as early as next week.

A key move will happen on Tuesday, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices meets. A vote from that meeting, followed by a formal recommendation from CDC Director Dr. Mandy Cohen, would effectively open the gate for physicians to begin administering any of the three manufacturers’ new vaccines.

NBC News reported that the US Food and Drug Administration could give the green light to new Covid boosters as early as Friday. However, doctors usually wait for the subsequent procedure by the CDC before giving the injection.

Doctors say getting an updated dose will be especially important for those most at risk of serious illness. Most people hospitalized with COVID-19 are elderly people who have not yet received their vaccinations.

Insured people will be able to get the new coronavirus vaccine for free, and uninsured children will be able to get the vaccine for free through the Federal Children’s Vaccine Program.

Uninsured adults can get free coronavirus vaccines through select health clinics and pharmacies, as well as the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. Los Angeles County will post a list of locations as soon as they become available.

COVID-19 levels are increasing in California and across the country, although they are still near historic lows. However, the high infection rates are proving very devastating in some places. High rates of coronavirus transmission are leading to more outbreaks of COVID-19 in Los Angeles County, where nursing homes, schools and work sites have reported increases in recent weeks.

Coronavirus levels are also rising in Los Angeles County’s sewage, but they’re still a far cry from last winter’s high. For the most recent data available, most sewage levels in the county are 26% from last winter’s peak. This is an increase from early July, when virus concentrations in wastewater were only 8% of their winter peak.

Despite the increase in transmission of the coronavirus, there has not yet been a corresponding increase in COVID-19 deaths, which remains at the rate of one death per day in Los Angeles County. Higher infection rates could lead to an increase in deaths, but Ferrer said it was also possible that deaths would remain low, which “may reflect the lower risk of death associated with higher vaccination rates and the use of powerful therapies” such as Paxlovid.

Health officials say it is still wise to take reasonable steps to avoid infection. Ferrer suggested people wear masks while on public transport and in healthcare settings, and urged patients to stay home.

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