The US Food and Drug Administration is looking into enabling companies that have developed SARS-CoV-2 vaccines to quickly update them to cope with new viral variants, Business Insider reports.
Recent studies have indicated that currently authorized vaccines and ones that recently reported late-stage testing results may be less effective against new SARS-CoV-2 strains, particularly the one recently identified in South Africa. Some vaccines developers have said they could, if necessary, update their SARS-CoV-2 vaccines to encompass new viral variants or provide a booster to existing vaccines.
According to Business Insider, Janet Woodcock, the acting head of the US Food and Drug Administration, says the agency will be using the framework it relies on for the flu to develop a guidance for vaccine makers on how to quickly update their SARS-CoV-2 vaccines without having to conduct clinical trials with tens of thousands of people.
She notes, according to the Wall Street Journal, that such vaccine updates don't yet look necessary. "With current vaccines, we feel that, against any variants we have seen, we have a fair amount of confidence they will provide good protection," she said during a press briefing, according to the Journal, but added that "we must prepare for all eventualities. The situation could change, and it could change pretty rapidly."