UK, 4 nations fast-track review of modified COVID vaccines

International

This Dec. 2, 2020 photo provided by Johnson & Johnson shows vials of the COVID-19 vaccine in the United States. The nation is poised to get a third vaccine against COVID-19, but health officials are concerned that at first glance the Johnson & Johnson shot may not be seen as equal to other options from Pfizer and Moderna. (Johnson & Johnson via AP)

LONDON (AP) – Regulators in the U.K. and four other countries plan to fast-track the development of modified COVID-19 vaccines to ensure drugmakers are able to move swiftly in targeting emerging variants of the disease.

Previously authorized vaccines that are modified to target new variants “will not need a brand new approval or ‘lengthy’ clinical studies,” Britain’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency said in a statement.

The new guidance was issued jointly be regulators in the U.K., Australia, Canada, Singapore and Switzerland.

The guidelines build on the model already used to modify the flu vaccine in response to continual changes in that virus.

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