New vaccines for Covid-19 should arrive much faster than their predecessors, Elizabeth Tracey reports


Both vaccine developers and the FDA have agreed that as new Covid variants emerge and updated vaccines are required, the pathway for providing them should involve testing in far fewer people and over a shorter period of time. Jonathan Zenilman, an infectious disease expert at Johns Hopkins, applauds the effort.

Zenilman: With different variants the FDA has agreed that that would be a reasonable pathway. The challenge is timing. Think about if we were going to develop and field an Omicron  vaccine the simple logistics of production and distribution would take three months at a minimum, so we wouldn’t have  it out until April, and think that Omicron has only been with us for less than three months so I think part of this becomes a predicting game very similar to what we do with the flu and I think that’s what we’re going to see moving forward.  :30

Flu vaccines are updated yearly based on which strains of the flu are circulating in Asia and surrounding countries. The promise of mRNA vaccines should extend to them also to make better matches each year. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.