The Briefing provides an at-a-glance view of some important developments in the information universe surrounding COVID-19. The views presented here are solely those of ECRI Horizon Scanning and have not been vetted by other stakeholders.

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The FDA has decided to delay expanding boosters to children and adults aged up to 50 years in favor of waiting for updated bivalent boosters that protect against both the original virus and the currently dominant Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 (see Topics to Watch for one such vaccine expected in September).

On July 26, 2022, the White House hosted the “Summit on the Future of COVID-19 Vaccines." One of the speakers, Akiko Iwasaki (a professor at Yale University), recently published a call for an “Operation Nasal Vaccine” to bring the successful tactics of Operation Warp Speed to the production of a vaccine delivered by nose spray. Such a vaccine could incite mucosal immunity; that is, block the virus at the nose and throat where it first enters the body. Clinical trials are underway and results in mouse studies are promising.

A group at the University of Pennsylvania hopes to create another innovative method to reduce the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 from infected individuals to others: CTB-ACE2 release chewing gum. The chewing gum would reduce the viral load in the chewer’s mouth using plant-cell-derived ACE2 receptors that would cause the free virus to aggregate in clumps to the proteins in the gum. Recent lab results offered proof of concept ahead of a clinical trial planned to begin in August 2022.

BNT162b5 Booster Vaccine to Prevent COVID-19

At a Glance

  • Mutations in the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 have resulted in increased infections and COVID-19–related hospitalizations, prompting the FDA to advise vaccine manufacturers to develop COVID-19 bivalent booster vaccines containing a component against Omicron.
  • Pfizer (New York, New York) and BioNTech (Mainz, Germany) are investigating a bivalent messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine, BNT162b5, that targets the spike protein from the original SARS-CoV-2 virus as well as the Omicron variant to prevent COVID-19.
  • BNT162b5 is being investigated in a phase 2 trial of 200 adults who have already received a booster dose of an authorized COVID-19 vaccine.
  • The companies plan to evaluate multiple vaccine candidates to create vaccines that generate longer-lasting immunity against SARS-CoV-2 infections.
  • On June 29, 2022, the company announced that the US government agreed to purchase the first 105 million doses of an Omicron specific vaccine from Pfizer for about $30 per dose.

Targeted Information Campaigns to Equitably Improve Maternal COVID-19 Vaccination Rates and Child Health Outcomes

At a Glance

  • Despite evidence that COVID-19 vaccination is not associated with increased risk of adverse maternal or fetal outcomes, misinformation remains widespread, and vaccination coverage among pregnant women varies significantly by race and ethnicity.
  • Infection during pregnancy is also associated with worse outcomes for children, including increased risk of preterm birth and neurodevelopmental issues.
  • Multiple academic and government health organizations have developed toolkits that use evidence-based behavior change theories and social media tools to promote vaccination among pregnant women.
  • Dissemination of culturally relevant, scientifically informed health information might beneficially alter behaviors regarding COVID-19 vaccination and reduce disparities in maternal and child health outcomes.

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Commentary in this COVID-19 Scan reflects preliminary views of ECRI Horizon Scanning and internal ECRI stakeholders.
The information contained in this document has not been vetted by other stakeholders.

We welcome your comments on this Scan. Send them by email to [email protected].

Posted: August 11, 2022

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