Czechia prepares vaccines for potential new Covid-19 variants this autumn

The vaccines, which will target new strains of the coronavirus, will not be actively promoted and advertised in Czechia.


Written by ČTK Published on 28.08.2023 10:29:00 (updated on 28.08.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

As autumn approaches, the healthcare system in Czechia is preparing to address the potential challenges presented by new variants of the Covid-19 virus. Roman Chlíbek, the leader of the Czech Vaccinological Society, recently shared on the X social network that pharmaceutical companies are developing vaccines specifically designed to combat the emerging virus strains.

New vaccines, but no campaigns

Health Minister Vlastimil Válek announced recently that the State Health Institute is actively working on Czechia's Covid-19 vaccination strategy for the upcoming autumn months. Among the preparations, the country is poised to receive the latest Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines, pending approval for the emerging XBB Covid-19 variant. Notably, experts anticipate that there will be no distinction between primary vaccinations and booster doses in the forthcoming inoculation campaign.

Developments underway

A pivotal development on the horizon is the potential release of the Comirnaty vaccine, adjusted to target the Omicron XBB.1.5 variant. This adapted vaccine, intended for the autumn and winter seasons of 2023/24, is currently under scrutiny by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for approval across all age groups, starting from six months old. 

Approximately 65.5 percent of the population – around 7 million individuals – have received Covid-19 vaccinations. While the situation remains stable in the country, a slight uptick in positive cases has been noted since the end of July. There is no lockdown expected for the upcoming winter – the last time stringent anti-Covid-19 measures applied was in the first half of 2022.

Meanwhile, Novavax, a pharmaceutical company with a significant presence in Czechia, is actively developing a novel vaccine catering to the XBB variant. Unlike the mRNA-based Comirnaty from Pfizer/BioNTech, Novavax's vaccine relies on proteins to stimulate immune responses. Filip Dubovsky, the head of research and development at Novava noted that that the vaccine demonstrated a broad ability to neutralize various XBB sub-variants.

Recent updates from the Czech Vaccinological Society underscore the EMA's modifications to the vaccination schedule for Comirnaty. These adjustments align the vaccine to address the omicron BA.4 and BA.5 variants, expanding its application even to those who have never been vaccinated before. The current recommended vaccination regimen involves three doses, with re-vaccination occurring no earlier than three months following the previous dose.

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