Europe 1 with AFP 9:56 p.m., March 17, 2022

The European Medicines Agency explained this Thursday evening that it did not have enough data at this time to request authorization for a second booster dose, as requested by Pfizer for a few days, but has wanted to warn people against the increase in cases in recent weeks.

The available data do not yet allow a second booster dose of anti-Covid vaccines to be recommended for the entire population, the European regulator said on Thursday as contaminations start to rise again on the continent.

"I would like to reiterate that there is not yet enough evidence (...) to support the recommendation of a second booster dose in the general population," said Marco Cavaleri, chief of the vaccine strategy of the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

An increase in cases caused by the BA.2 variant

“Infection rates are rising again in some member states after the steady decline we have seen in recent weeks,” he also observed at a press conference.

The wave of infections seems to be carried by the BA.2 sub-variant of Omicron, which seems more contagious than the other variants of SARS-CoV-2, underlined Marco Cavaleri.

The lifting of restrictions likely also contributed to the rise in cases, he said.

"There is currently no indication that immune evasion after vaccination is significantly different with Omicron BA.2", he however reassured.

The importance of getting vaccinated

The activity of monoclonal antibodies, on the other hand, can vary significantly against each subvariant of Omicron, he said, again calling on citizens to get vaccinated.

"Countries with high vaccination rates report significantly lower mortality and hospitalization rates," said the Italian.

The regulator has so far approved five vaccines for use in the EU: Pfizer and Moderna, which use messenger RNA technology, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson, which use viral vector technology, and Novavax, which is based on a state-of-the-art lab-produced protein.

The World Health Organization on Wednesday expressed concern over the rise in Covid cases around the world, even as people are getting fewer and fewer tests.