LONDON, May 19 (Reuters) - The European health regulator on
Thursday endorsed the use of AstraZeneca's COVID
vaccine, Vaxzevria, as a booster.
The recommendation, made by a committee of the European
Medicines Agency (EMA), encompasses adults who have either been
previously vaccinated by Vaxzevria or an mRNA vaccine, such as
the ones made by Pfizer and BioNTech or
The recommendation comes weeks after the EMA backed the use
of Pfizer-BioNTech's Comirnaty as a booster for adults who have
previously been inoculated with other vaccines.
Vaccine makers, including Pfizer and Moderna, have indicated
that most vaccinations this year will be booster shots, or
first inoculations for children, which are still gaining
regulatory approvals around the world.
It is unclear how many boosters will be needed globally, and
many developed countries have already begun to roll them out. In
some countries, even second booster campaigns for some high-risk
groups have begun.
Meanwhile, vaccine makers are also developing
variant-specific vaccines. Earlier this month, the EMA said it
hoped to have vaccines adapted to address coronavirus variants,
such as Omicron, approved by September.
Although Vaxzevria was AstraZeneca's second best seller last
year, it has struggled to compete with mRNA rivals. In late
April, AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot asserted that the shot
still had a role in fighting the pandemic.
"We believe this vaccine still has a potential, it's very
easy to administer and distribute," he said. "The volume in the
future will be less because people probably will only need one
booster per year and not everybody will take it."
About half of all EU citizens are fully vaccinated and
boosted, while 15% of those over 18 have not received even one
vaccine shot, said Marco Cavaleri, the EMA's head of biological
health threats and vaccines strategy, on May 5.
(Reporting by Natalie Grover in London; Editing by Angus