The Omicron variant continues to spread at high speed across the planet.
With 66.6% of the European population now fully vaccinated against the virus, the bloc is well prepared, says Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission. But caution remains in order:
“If you look at the time it takes for new cases, to double in number, it seems to double every two or three days. And that’s huge. We’re told that in mid-January, we should we expect Omicron to be the dominant new variant in Europe.“
As many countries embarked on administering a third dose of the vaccine to counter this new wave, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said on Wednesday that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine could be used for booster doses in people over 18 years of age.
Children vaccinated too
To counter this new wave, the vaccination of children began this Wednesday in several European countries. After Denmark and Austria, 5-11 year olds are vaccinated with a version of the Pfizer vaccine that is weaker than that intended for adults in Germany, Spain, Greece, France or even Hungary. This age group is currently the most affected by contamination.
- In Germanybesides Berlin, the region of Bavaria (south) has also launched its campaign. A few days before the end of the year holidays and after weeks of procrastination from the German vaccine commission, these “Länder” have chosen to recommend the vaccination of children with risk factors or whose entourage has comorbidities. In addition to vaccination among doctors, large-scale actions are planned at the Berlin Zoo and the Natural History Museum, or in schools.
- Spain, one of the champions of vaccination in Europe, has started its campaign aimed at all children aged 5 to 11 in schools, vaccinodromes or hospitals, depending on the region. Its Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said he hoped that this expansion of immunization to children would make the country “an example for the world”.
Even if there is more indecision than during the adult vaccination campaign, 74% of parents plan to have their child vaccinated in Spain, according to a survey.
A government television campaign features children rejoicing that it is “their turn” to be vaccinated to act like “grandpa and grandma, dad and mom, auntie and uncle, the mistress” and be able to “kiss without limit, help end this virus and protect the elderly “.
- More than 30,000 parents have made an appointment in Greece to vaccinate their child while the campaign also begins Wednesday in this country, as in Hungary.
- Other countries like italy, the Poland (where new restrictions were introduced on Wednesday), the Portugal Where Cyprus will start their campaign in the coming days.
- In France, only the vaccination of children at risk of developing severe forms has been approved, but the government has said it is considering extending it “to all children” on a voluntary basis.
New delay for the Sanofi vaccine
Note that we will have to wait to see the vaccine from the French group Sanofi on the market. The results for its trials are postponed until the first quarter of 2022, which pushes back a marketing launch by as much. But the intermediate results are encouraging. A single booster dose of the vaccine candidate from Sanofi and GSK has indeed “made it possible to obtain strong immune responses”, argues the laboratory in a press release.
The results of this test thus show a multiplication of the order of 9 to 43 in neutralizing antibodies, regardless of the vaccine received for the primary vaccination.
Unlike its competitors, no messenger RNA for the future Sanofi vaccine but the use of a protein as an antigen to help the body recognize the virus.