White House to hold summit on next-generation COVID-19 vaccines

The White House wants to accelerate the development of next-generation COVID-19 vaccines, statistical news reported Monday. Ideally, future vaccines would offer longer-lasting protection against infection and transmission of the virus, not just serious illness and death.

Federal officials, researchers and representatives from pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and Moderna will meet on Tuesday at a White House “summit” to discuss next steps. It is unclear whether President Biden – who currently has COVID-19 – will participate.

The currently available COVID-19 vaccines still work well to prevent most people from becoming seriously ill or dying from COVID-19. But the turnover of new variants of the virus – most recently with the various forms of the omicron variant – has reduced the effectiveness of vaccines in preventing infections and milder illnesses. In the short term, pharmaceutical companies and the Food and Drug Administration are working to develop updated vaccine boosters targeting omicron.

But experts say chasing variants is not the best or most sustainable approach to vaccine development. The White House is looking at two approaches to next-generation vaccines, said Ashish Jha, the White House’s COVID-19 response coordinator. statistical news. The first is nasal spray vaccines, which would generate an immune response and block the virus once it enters the body. The second is to create a vaccine that targets parts of the virus shared between variants, which would remain more effective even if the virus continued to change. Both will be difficult scientific challenges – COVID-19 nasal spray vaccines are still experimental and vaccine developers have struggled for years to create universal flu vaccines.

Getting the investment needed to take these next vaccine packages forward will be an additional challenge. The White House is is already struggling to find funding for COVID-19 response efforts, including vaccines. Republican lawmakers have blocked efforts to provide more COVID-19 relief funding, and the Democratic leadership is struggling to figure out a way forward.

Without new approaches to vaccination, public health efforts could get stuck on the virus – which is still killing more than 400 people a day in the US.

“The virus is constantly evolving,” said Jha statistical news. “We’re having to evolve with that, okay. But in the long term, we really need a serious step forward.”

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