December 9, 2022

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The European Commission warns that wearing a mask could become necessary again

The European Commission warned on Friday that it may be necessary in the coming months to reintroduce measures to slow the spread of COVID-19, including wearing masks and limiting gatherings, and stressed the importance of vaccination to keep the pandemic under control, also anticipating that a a challenge this season could be the flu, in addition to COVID-19, reports the EFE agency.

“The last two years have shown that the EU can face a new wave of COVID-19”, which coincides with the return from holidays, with the reopening of schools and the drop in temperatures, the EU executive states in a report on how the EU states must prepare to respond to a new increase in cases of COVID-19 that could occur this fall and next winter.

In addition, it is likely that “the EU will face a season with active circulation of other respiratory viruses, including influenza”, which will entail “a challenge for already overburdened national health systems”, the same report indicates , according to Agerpres.

Therefore, the European Commission recommends to the member states to continue the vaccination campaigns “using the currently available vaccines to reduce hospitalizations, serious illnesses and deaths”, and for the moment when the vaccines adapted to the variants of the coronavirus will be available to “develop national programs of vaccination that describes which vaccines should be used for certain population groups”, giving priority to those in risk categories, such as the elderly, people with comorbidities or those who are immunosuppressed.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) on Thursday approved the anti-Covid-19 vaccines produced by the companies Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna that have been adapted to offer protection against Omicron, the variant of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus that has become dominant during this period in Europe.

But, in addition to vaccination, the community executive also emphasizes the importance of “non-pharmaceutical measures” to curb the pandemic, including wearing a mask and limiting gatherings. “If such measures are applied before or at the beginning of the next wave, their impact will be greater. Therefore, it is possible to need the reintroduction of non-pharmaceutical measures in the coming months”, warns the European Commission.

Europe has authorized vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna against the Omicron variant

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) on Thursday authorized the anti-COVID-19 vaccines developed against the Omicron variant by the Pfizer-BioNTech alliance and the American company Moderna, informs AFP and Reuters.

The vaccines “target the Omicron BA.1 subvariant in addition to the original strain of the new coronavirus,” the representatives of the EMA, an agency whose headquarters are in the Dutch city of Amsterdam, stated in a statement.

European Union countries are preparing to carry out a new vaccination campaign ahead of an anticipated increase in the number of infections caused by the new coronavirus this winter.

The new bivalent vaccines have been adapted to combat the BA.1 subvariant of Omicron and the original variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, first detected in China at the end of 2019.

The EMA recommends that these bivalent vaccines developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna be used as booster doses for anyone over 12 years of age who has already received the primary vaccination schedule against COVID-19. These vaccines are adapted versions of the original Comirnaty (Pfizer-BioNTech) and Spikevax (Moderna) vaccines.

According to Reuters, the final decision to distribute these vaccines belongs to the European Commission, which usually respects the recommendations of the EMA and pronounces itself very quickly after their formulation.

In August, Great Britain became the first country in the world to authorize the bivalent vaccine developed by Moderna. Switzerland and Australia followed suit shortly thereafter.

The decision announced by the EMA on Thursday comes a day after the booster adapted by Pfizer to target the current dominant subvariants of Omicron, BA.4 and BA.5, alongside the original coronavirus strain, was already sent for evaluation by the EMA, while the transmission of the bivalent booster from Moderna is imminent.

The EMA will announce its decision on vaccines adapted against the BA.4 and BA.5 variants in the coming weeks, the European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides, said on Thursday.

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) already authorized, on Wednesday, the new version of anti-COVID-19 vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna, which specifically target the Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants.

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