Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that can cause illnesses such as the common cold, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). In 2019, a new coronavirus was identified as the cause of a disease outbreak that originated in China.
The virus is known as severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The disease it causes is called coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).1
5th documented pandemic
The World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak as the fifth documented pandemic.2
The COVID-19 virus is highly contagious, it rapidly spreads and continuously changes the way it impacts our health.
Evolving at an unprecedented pace
COVID-19 evolves at least 2.5-times faster than the influenza subtype H3N2, which is considered to be the fastest evolving virus.3
New variants change the course of the pandemic
Viruses, like COVID-19, continue to change over time (mutate) as they circulate. Just as people have a family tree, the evolution of the COVID-19 virus can be similarly mapped out. The branches of a virus’ family tree can have different attributes that change:
how fast the virus spreads
the severity of illness it causes
the effectiveness of treatments against it
Scientists call these changes or mutations in viruses’ “variants”.
COVID-19 has mutated several times from the original version of the virus, also known as the parent variant, causing new variants to emerge.4
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has categorised Omicron as the current circulating variant of concern.5
Interestingly, Omicron is not a single variant but a family, meaning there are different versions of the Omicron variant in circulation, also known as descendent lineages. WHO emphasizes that these descendant lineages should be monitored as distinct lineages by public health authorities and comparative assessments of their virus characteristics should be
What Omicron has shown is that COVID variants continue to evolve, multiply and bring with it a continued need for the public to be protected against current and future variants.7
Protection is key
- Vaccines have been instrumental in helping to limit the impact of the pandemic by preventing COVID-19 infections and serious disease.8
- The emergence of the variants and waning vaccine immunity over time emphasizes the importance of continued vaccination and the need for new vaccine technologies options.8
- Vaccines remain the best public health measure to protect people from COVID-19, reduce the risk of serious outcomes and reduce the likelihood of new variants emerging.9
"Despite multiple vaccines becoming available, there remain vast global health needs further exasperated by the unpredictability of virus variant. Sanofi is continuing to complement its expertise and resources with that of our peers to help prevent and control the pandemic over the long term."
We have executed an extensive development program which was based on innovative and proven manufacturing technology to make our protein-based adjuvanted COVID-19 booster vaccine available for use in Europe. Our COVID-19 vaccine was developed in partnership with GSK and BARDA.
We are continuing to study our vaccine against emerging variants and in additional populations. We will also collect data and real-world evidence to help us understand how our vaccine preforms in clinical settings.
As the regulatory and epidemiological environment continues to evolve, we remain committed to working closely with public health regulatory authorities to understand the longer-term need for vaccines and respond appropriately.
We are also leveraging our Industrial Affairs capacities worldwide to manufacture authorized COVID-19 vaccines.
Frequently Asked Questions
mRNA Technology: Vaccines and Beyond
- Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) - Symptoms and causes - Mayo Clinic
- COVID-19: The first documented coronavirus pandemic in history - PubMed (nih.gov)
pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32387617/ Last accessed June 2022
- What Is Omicron’s Future? And Will the Delta Variant Stage a Comeback? – The Wire Science
https://science.thewire.in/the-sciences/omicron-variant-sub-lineages-epidemic-future-india-covovax/ Last accessed June 2022
- Basics of COVID-19 | CDC www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/your-health/about-covid-19/basics-covid-19.html Last accessed June 2022
- Suivi des variants du SARS-Cov-2 (who.int)
www.who.int/en/activities/tracking-SARS-CoV-2-variants/ Last accessed June 2022
- Omicron Transmission And Immune Evasion Explained By The Omicron Spike’s Unique Structure – ACCESS (accessh.org)
https://accessh.org/coronavirus_articles/omicron-transmission-and-immune-evasion-explained-by-the-omicron-spikes-unique-structure/ Last accessed June 2022
- Omicron Variant: What You Need to Know | CDC
www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/variants/omicron-variant.html Last accessed June 2022
- Déclaration à l’intention des professionnels de la santé : Comment les vaccins contre la COVID-19 sont réglementés pour des raisons d’innocuité et d’efficacité (who.int)
www.who.int/news/item/17-05-2022-statement-for-healthcare-professionals-how-covid-19-vaccines-are-regulated-for-safety-and-effectiveness Last accessed June 2022
- Waning of COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness: individual and public health risk - PMC (nih.gov)
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8863500/ Last accessed June 2022
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