Delta and Delta Plus evade the antibody response:
Delta and Delta Plus were less well inhibited (neutralized) by antibodies from infected and vaccinated individuals as compared to the original virus and this likely contributed to the rapid spread of Delta.
It seems to me relatively straightforward that if we would update the vaccine to the spike protein of the delta varient that would help with protecting against it. When talking to people on Facebook I heared strange arguments such as the "vaccine working well" against delta with seems like a really bogus statement given the need for booster shots and many vaccinated spreading the virus. Yes, the vaccine helps but that's no reason not to update it to make it help more.
Can anyone make sense of this?
It looks like for Omicron at least Modena, and possibly Pfizer too, will be working on vaccine updates, according to tweets:
It might be useful to draw up the happy pathway to developing mRNA vaccines against spike proteins, and examining all the issues along the way.
My (very limited). understanding:
So, what are the issues that prevent
Or other things?
On the face of it, it seems almost like a trivial problem... but this is biology, so of course it isn't.
There doesn't seem to be a huge incentive for vaccine companies to go through the pain and expense of developing a new vaccine version, which would only be useful for a few months, and which just displaces sales from its existing vaccine instead of creating new sales.
According to Pfizer, it should take 100 days. If they would have started that when it become clear that Delta will be soon the prevailing variant, we would have had access to the updated vaccine for a few months.
The best prediction seems to be those new variants will be varients of what's currently the most common variant and thus a vaccine that's updated against delta will be nearer to new variants.
That's an argument why the companies don't want to do it on their own but not one for the lack of political pressure on them. It would be one of the main things a politician like Biden could do to actually fight the pandemic if that would be a political priority.
Trying to push out a revision costs money and doesn't earn any expected money. And everyone knows this is so. Unofficial market collusion regularly manages to solve harder problems; you don't need explicit comms at all.
I'll grant that we'll hear some competitive "ours works better on variant X" marketing but a new even faster approval track would be needed if we really wanted rapid protein updates.
As evhub mentions, the antibodies you make given the first vaccine you're exposed to are what will get manufactured every time you see a similar-enough provocation. It may be impossible to switch the learned immune response without some specially designed "different enough" protein that's hoped to also be protective against the latest variant. I buy the 'original antigenic sin' concept - there has to be a reason we're not naturally immune to flu and corona-colds already after many previous encounters.