Inactivated vaccine: Valneva apparently also works against omicron

Status: 01/20/2022 09:18 a.m

The approval process for Valneva’s corona vaccine is still ongoing. However, a laboratory study raises hopes: The inactivated vaccine could therefore also neutralize the omicron variant of the corona virus.

The corona vaccine from the Austrian-French biotech company Valneva, which is about to be approved in Europe, is apparently also effective against the omicron variant. The results of an initial laboratory study showed that serum antibodies formed after three doses neutralize the omicron variant, the company said last night.

Serum is the liquid part of the blood after coagulation is complete. The serum thus contains neither blood cells nor clotting factors, but various types of proteins that are not involved in the clotting process – including antibodies.

87 percent effectiveness against omicron

For the study, the sera of 30 vaccinated participants were exposed to a virus manipulated in the laboratory. According to the company, all sera tested showed neutralizing antibodies against the original virus and against the delta variant. 26 samples (87 percent) also showed neutralizing antibodies against the meanwhile dominant omicron variant.

“We are very pleased with these results, which validate the potential for broad protection of our inactivated, adjuvanted, whole virus vaccine and its ability to target currently circulating variants,” said Valneva Chief Physician Juan Carlos Jaramillo. The new results would complement previous findings from a phase 3 study that showed two doses showed an improved immune response.

How does the Valneva inactivated vaccine work?

The fact that the Valneva vaccine protects against the omicron variant could also be due to its design: the Valneva vaccine is a classic inactivated vaccine. It contains the complete Sars-CoV-2 virus – naturally inactivated (killed). The advantage of dead whole virus vaccines is that they offer the immune system more targets than just the spike protein.

However, the current study situation does not indicate that inactivated vaccines are generally superior to the mRNA vaccines that have been tried millions of times. For example, according to a study, no neutralizing antibodies against omicron were found in the blood samples of 25 people who were vaccinated twice with the Chinese inactivated vaccine CoronaVac.

Approval still in the first quarter?

Meanwhile, the approval process at the European Medicines Agency (EMA) is proving rather bumpy. At the beginning of the week, the EMA announced that it was still waiting for additional data in order to be able to decide on approval. This had caused the Valneva share price to collapse on the Paris stock exchange, and market participants lost hopes of rapid approval.

Yesterday, at the request of the Reuters news agency, Valneva made it clear that the Covid-19 vaccine was still expected to be approved in the first quarter. All available data has already been sent to the EMA health authority, it said. “We expect to present the remaining data in the coming weeks.”

EU secured millions of Valneva doses

In November, the EU Commission signed a contract with the Austrian-French biotech company for the delivery of up to 60 million vaccine doses over the next two years – provided the drug is approved.

In view of the current situation, even the Valneva boss does not recommend waiting for the Valneva vaccine to be approved: “I do not advise anyone to wait for our vaccine,” Thomas Lingelbach told the “Spiegel”. “That would be ethically unacceptable.” He recently had himself boosted with the mRNA vaccine from BioNTech.

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