The Catalan vaccine against covid, Hipra, is effective and valid against him SARS-CoV-2, although not be updated against the omicron subvariants (XBB), majority for a year and a half. Is he message of calm that launch the doctors and scientists consulted by EL PERIÓDICO at the gates of the coronavirus vaccination campaign. Spain bought 3.2 million doses of Hipra for 31 million euros.
Drugs such as Pfizer, Moderna and Novavax They will have third-generation vaccines ready this fall, that is, adapted to omicrons. In fact, the European Union has already authorized the Pfizer vaccine adapted against the Ómicron XBB.1.5 variant.
However, Hipra, approved last March by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), three years after the pandemic broke out, is also valid and it does generate “antibodies” and “cellular response” to covid-19, “just like other vaccines”, as the IrsiCaixa researcher defends Julia Blanco, which collaborates with Hipra in clinical trials.
“It is a valid vaccine that generates “antibodies” and “cellular response”
What’s more, a article published this Friday in the ‘Spanish Journal of Chemotherapy’ defends that the unmodified Hipra vaccine induces a broad antibody response against emerging variants, including the XBB.1.5 subvariant, to protect against serious illness.
“Hipra is based on older variants [alfa y beta, las primeras]. It is a technological question. Is made of adjuvanted recombinant protein, while Pfizer and Moderna are messenger RNA, a more agile technology to adapt vaccines to the new variants,” explains Blanco.
“Hipra does offer neutralization with respect to omicron and prevents serious disease, but it is not effectively adapted to the latest variants”
Can Ruti Doctor
Says the same Beatriz Mothe, Infectious Diseases doctor Germans Trias i Pujol Hospital (Can Ruti, in Badalona) and IrsiCaixa researcher who has also participated in the Hipra clinical trials. “The protein expressed by the Hipra vaccine is not XBB, but we know that, with the current structure, does offer neutralization with respect to omicron and prevents serious illness. It is not a bad product, far from it. But if you go strictly, it is effectively not adapted to the latest variants,” says Mothe.
Hipra will begin clinical trials to adapt its drug to Omicron in the fall, and it will be available in “January or February”
The pharmaceutical company Hipra, based in Amer (Girona), will begin the clinical trial and the doctors consulted by this newspaper estimate that it will be available in “January or February”, so it will not arrive at the beginning of this season. “Maybe in February there will be another variant. But this will always happen to us: vaccines are a little behind what is happening in real time. When you adapt a vaccine you do it with the version of that moment,” explains Mothe.
Both the EMA As the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) made a statement in June in which they recommended the adaptation of vaccine composition of the covid that will be used this fall at circulating omicron subvariants. But they also endorse other formulations that would achieve an immune response against this variant, “and that is where Hipra and Sanofi would come in,” as pointed out. Fernando Moraga-Llopspokesperson for the Spanish Association of Vaccinology (AEV).
Scientists emphasize that vaccines are always “a little behind what is happening in real time”
“The vaccines priority, Those that are recommended are those adapted or modified. But if Hipra and Sanofi present data on their immune response They could also be used in this campaign. The laboratories say they have this data, but Hipra and Sanofi have not yet presented it,” says Moraga-Llop. Hipra sources limit themselves to saying that their vaccine “currently generates immune response against the new XBB variants” and avoid saying when will they present that data.
The EMA and the ECDC recommend adaptation to omicron, but also endorse other formulations that achieve an immune response
At the moment there is only one vaccine adapted to the omicron subvariants, that of Pfizer, although it is expected that those of Moderna and Novavax. Moraga-Llop insists on the need to use all vaccines that show efficacy and to continue vaccinating: Covid-19 increased by 70% in primary care throughout Spain in the last week of August. The sale of antigens It has also grown in pharmacies. “In addition, covid does not have a seasonality, like the flu, because it grows throughout the year,” points out this vaccinologist.
The WHO does not rule it out
As Blanco highlights, although the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends using adapted vaccines, “in no case does it rule out previous vaccines.” “The Hipra vaccine increases the level of antibodies, but its ability to neutralize current variants is probably lower,” he says. Also the Pfizer vaccine, the latest generation, is based on a variant “that no longer circulates”, the XBB.1.5. “Now we have other derivatives, such as the XBB.1.16, the eris (EG.5.1) and the pirola (BA.2.86). This last one is the one that worries us the most because it is the one that can make a difference, but it is still too early to know what will happen and at the moment there are very few sequences in the world,” he says. The Ministry of Health found samples of pyrola in wastewater from Catalonia two weeks ago, but not in clinical tests.
“Viruses always evolve into new variants. This happens to us every year with the flu: we try to get closer to the variant that is circulating, but it may happen that the virus makes a jump and the vaccine no longer works as well,” explains Mothe. However, Every year people are vaccinated against the flu and the drug demonstrates its effectiveness every year. “Now Omicron has been stagnant for a long time. There is talk of a pyrola, which seems like it won’t start but It may be that their descendants do. And then it could happen that all the vaccines adapted to XBB no longer cover the new variant,” concludes this researcher.
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