There is (at least in France) an ongoing discussion about the Astra-Zeneca vaccine which is perceived as "outdated" because of the prevalence of new variants (the vaccine was designed based on the initial virus)(*).
How difficult is it to create a new vaccine that targets a new variant of the virus? (specifically adenovirus vector vaccines like the AstraZeneca one, but any general information is welcome as well)
My understanding is that the clinical trials are not needed anymore (in the same way as a flu vaccine is recreated each year without clinical trials because the difference is in the virus variants only) so is there a strictly biological, incompressible delay? (ability to target the new variant)?
My main question, related to biology, is above, the following alternative questions are OT for the site, but I am asking them in case they would be relevant:
- Or is there a financial aspect? (too expensive to create a new vaccine)
- Or is this because Astra-Zeneca believes that the current vaccine is OK, despite the backslash?
- An example of the reluctance (in French): https://www.dna.fr/sante/2021/02/19/haguenau-la-moitie-des-50-64-ans-refuse-le-vaccin-astrazeneca.
- In SA the AZ vaccine was stopped due to concerns about efficacity on the new variant, which influenced the French opinion as we also have SA variants in the wild (again, in French): https://www.midilibre.fr/2021/02/08/coronavirus-lafrique-du-sud-suspend-lutilisation-du-vaccin-dastrazeneca-juge-inefficace-sur-le-variant-9360903.php.
Please note I am not saying this is the case - I am just curious how hard it is to create a new vaccine for a variant.