Infectious Disease Vaccines: 5 Important Updates

Studies, advances, and authorizations continue in this paramount area within infectious disease.

With the big news this past week that the 2 mRNA (BioNTech and Moderna) vaccines were recommended for authorization for use in children 6 months through 5 years of age, and the CDC signing off on it this past Saturday, availability of the vaccines for this pediatric population will likely happen this week.

The last couple of years has been a reminder of the proven and worthy endeavor of investing in vaccines. Certainly, the COVID-19 vaccines have led the way, and with new technology such as the mRNA platform, combination vaccines and shots for latent viruses such as Cytomegalovirus (CMV), has placed this form of prophylaxis medicine at the forefront.

Here are some of the specific vaccines in a few areas within infectious disease that are in various stages of development or have been approved.

1.Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine. They have been at the forefront of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines. This was the first vaccine to get the EUA in December 2020 for the adult population and they followed suit later with being the first vaccine to be eligible for children and teens. Just this past week, they were one of 2 mRNA vaccine developers who were granted the amended EUA for children 6 months to 5 years old.

2.Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine. This was the second vaccine granted an FDA EUA in the United States for adults first, and just last week, for children. The company believes the mRNA technology can be applied to various diseases and conditions and they are also investigating combination vaccines that can be administered annually to combat COVID-19, influenza, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

3. Merck Pneumococcal Vaccine. Nearly a year ago, the FDA approved the company’s 15-valent conjugate vaccine in those 18 years and older. This includes prevention of the disease caused by serotypes 1, 3, 4, 5, 6A, 6B, 7F, 9V, 14, 18C, 19A, 19F, 22F, 23F and 33F. These infections can affect the young and older populations, and pneumococcal disease refers to any infection caused by bacteria called Streptococcus pneumoniae, or pneumococcus. Pneumococcal infections can range from ear and sinus infections to pneumonia and bloodstream infections according to CDC.

In addition, July 1 is the target date for its supplemental BLA for this vaccine in infants and children, six weeks old through 17 years of age.

4. Novavax COVID-19 vaccine. Utilizing another technology platform, this vaccine was recently recommended for EUA in the US. It is currently being used internationally in several countries. In speaking to Contagion, clinicians offered some insights into how this vaccine differs from the mRNA vaccines.

5. GSK RSV vaccine. Being studied for seniors, which is 1 of 2 populations—babies, toddlers being the other—that are greatly affected by this virus. For its phase 3 study, GSK announced this month that their shot—a single dose of GSK's adjuvanted RSVPreF3 OA vaccine—administered in individuals aged 60 years and above was efficacious. This was a large study looking at approximately 25,000 participants from 17 countries.

Bonus: The smallpox vaccine is being utilized for monkeypox prevention. It is important to note it is being used only in close personal contacts with those who have contracted monkeypox.

Although the smallpox vaccine is not administered anymore in the US as part of the vaccine schedule for children, it remains in American stockpiles for biohazard terrorism prevention. In fact, just last week, the company, Bavarian Nordic, announced that the US Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) ordered an additional 500,000 doses of liquid-frozen JYNNEOS, a non-replicating smallpox vaccine and the only FDA-approved vaccine against monkeypox, for delivery in 2022.

Here is a recent article Contagion did on an investigational monkeypox therapy.