The first Covid vaccine against Omicron is due to be approved by the EU tomorrow

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) is expected to give the green light to the first Covid-19 vaccine offering protection against the Omicron variant tomorrow, paving the way for shipments to Ireland.

An extraordinary meeting of the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use at EMA will finalize its evaluation of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines targeting Omicron’s BA.1 strain.

Although BA.1 has since been overtaken by BA.4 and BA.5 – which is now dominant here – it is the first time that the Covid-19 vaccine aims to extend protection beyond the Wuhan strain of coronavirus, that triggered the pandemic in 2020.

It remains to be seen how effective the new generation vaccines will be outside of real-world studies in the general population.

The fact that vaccines from two manufacturers are being considered and potentially approved increases the chances of a better supply to Ireland, which relies on EU sourcing and stock sharing between member countries.

Individuals who are offered a booster shot are still advised to take the vaccine they are offered that has been shown to have good protection against serious illness.

Pfizer last week submitted a Covid-19 vaccine to the EMA for a booster dose, which protects against Omicron’s BA.4 and BA.5 strains currently circulating here for people aged 12 and over.

The prospect of new vaccines in the coming months comes as the number of patients with Covid-19 stood at 253 yesterday, compared to 307 two weeks ago. Of those, 14 were in intensive care, up from 20 two weeks ago, although numbers vary.

The positivity rate for people who underwent PCR tests yesterday was 11.4 percent, with a seven-day positivity of 11.2 percent, slightly higher than last week.

In her most recent report to Health Secretary Stephen Donnelly, Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr. Breda Smyth said as of August 19, there has been a decrease in PCR-detected cases of the virus and the situation is largely stable.

She said: “A significant proportion of detected infections continue to be identified in older age groups.”

She added that hospitals’ Covid burden remained “significant” at the time, with 292 patients with the virus, although this has since fallen.

Of those hospitalized with the virus, about 40.8 percent were there because of complications from the virus, with the rest being hospitalized for other illnesses.

She said the number of patients in intensive care directly attributable to Covid fell from 11 on August 9 to eight on August 16.

Significant numbers of hospital infections continued through August 7.

There were seven people who picked up Covid in hospital this week, compared with 91 the previous week and 119 in the week ended July 24, Dr. Smith. As of August 16, 22 Covid-19-related deaths have been reported for that month, with 143 in July, 106 in June and 123 in May.

She said the BA.5 variant is the dominant strain circulating here.

Globally, the number of new weekly cases fell 9 percent in the week of August 15-22 compared to the previous week, with over 5.3 million new cases reported.

The number of new weekly deaths fell by 15 percent compared to the previous week, with over 14,000 deaths reported.

As of August 21, about 593 million confirmed cases and 6.4 million deaths had been reported worldwide. The first Covid vaccine against Omicron is due to be approved by the EU tomorrow

Fry Electronics Team

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