‘Better vaccines’ needed to cover COVID variants, infectious disease experts say

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Dr. Gregory Poland, an infectious disease physician at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS the original vaccines against the COVID-19 virus did a “terrific” job keeping people out of the hospital and preventing death, but he said moving forward better vaccines need to be developed.

“The current vaccines offer only mild benefit, in terms of infection, against those new variants, said Poland.  “So, the idea is, and both Moderna and Pfizer both plan no doing this, to devise vaccines that cover the Omicron variant.”

Poland told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS the goal is to possibly have an updated COVID vaccine by early fall by using part of the original vaccine and the vaccine that was used during the Omicron surge.

But, Poland said the ultimate goal is to develop a so-called Pan-Corona Vaccine which would offer better protection against all of the variants that have emerged with the virus.

“The idea that we, and others are working on, is a Pan-Corona virus vaccine. Or, if you will, a universal Corona virus vaccine,” said Poland. “That’s still a ways off, but that’s the goal.”

Dr. Peter Bornstein, with St. Paul Infectious Disease Associates, told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS he agrees with the push by the Food and Drug Administration to come up with a more effective vaccine.

“We definitely need better vaccines. How much the virus itself will keep mutating, and have immunological escape from the vaccines, we just don’t know yet,” said Bornstein.

The FDA met Tuesday to discuss the future of new COVID vaccines, but did not yet offer any recommendations.