Work underway to develop Covid vaccines effective on new strains

January 16, 2023 - 19:35

TEHRAN – A health official has said different centers are working to develop existing vaccines in order to be used against new variants.

Currently, two or three centers are working on the development of their own vaccines, deputy health minister Younes Panahi said on Monday.

“But this does not mean that a new vaccine will come and we will replace the existing vaccines,” ISNA quoted Panahi as saying.

The Covid-19 virus has mutated in various forms in the world and one of the most serious and dangerous strains is the XBB strain, he added.

“In Iran, studies are currently being conducted on new mutations, but there is no new vaccine that is specific for it. So, we and other countries use the same existing vaccines.”

For instance, the U.S. has a high mortality rate even with mRNA vaccines, and France and Japan also have high mortality rates.

“But in our country, due to observing social distancing rules and wearing masks, we can overcome the new strains with the vaccines that we currently have in sufficient quantity,” he explained.

Panahi went on to say that there is no new vaccine specific to Omicron, neither in the world nor in Iran, but the world is intensively studying to update their vaccines for new mutations.

On January 1, deputy health minister Hossein Farshidi said three new strains of BQ1, XBB, and BA2, have been diagnosed recently in patients, warning that the new wave of Covid began.

Fast-developing Covid-19 variants are spreading over Europe, and severely infected France and Germany, he noted.

Emphasizing that the transmission power of XBB is five times higher than Delta, Farshidi insisted that borders should be monitored quickly and suspicious patients should be identified.

Within the next one to two months, the new wave of the pandemic will reach its peak, he further lamented, ISNA reported.

The rate of hospitalization of the new strains is the same as the Omicron, but the higher the number of patients, the higher the percentage of hospitalizations, he also said.

He further emphasized that people should be injected with booster doses.

Medical researchers announced the risk of an Omicron variant emerging in the world that is resistant to all existing therapeutic antibodies, and the findings indicate that new treatments must be identified to deal with this variant.

According to new research at a German institute, BQ1.1, is resistant to all approved antibody treatments.

Omicron escapes neutralizing antibodies and causes symptomatic disease even in vaccinated or convalescent individuals due to mutations in the spike protein. This is known as an immune escape and is dangerous for high-risk populations, including the elderly and people with weak immune systems.


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