The WHO Technical Advisory Group on COVID-19 Vaccine Composition, or TAG-CO-VAC, said Thursday it’s recommending that future formulations of COVID-19 vaccines use newer variants in their composition, such as the XBB.1 descendant lineages, which are now dominant globally. The group is recommending the use of a monovalent XBB.1 descendent lineage, such as XBB.1.5, which is one of two variants of interest for the agency, along with XBB.1.6. Both are originally sublineages of the omicron variant of the virus. The TAG-CO-VAC reiterated that all currently approved vaccines “continue to provide substantial protection against severe disease and death, which is the primary objective for COVID-19 vaccination.” However, preclinical data suggests that vaccination with XBB.1 descendent lineage-containing candidate vaccines (including XBB.1.5) “elicits higher neutralizing antibody responses to currently circulating SARS-CoV-2 variants, compared to responses elicited by currently approved vaccines.” The group is also recommending that data on immune responses and clinical endpoints in humans who get a COVID vaccine with the updated composition continue to be gathered and that governments continue to collaborate on providing access to vaccines.
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