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European medicines regulators today backed a World Health Organization (WHO) recommendation to update the antigenic composition of COVID-19 vaccines to target one of the currently dominant variants of the XBB virus ahead of the upcoming autumn vaccination campaign.

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WHO-affiliated advisory groups have suggested that, pending more data, monovalent vaccines containing XBB can also be considered a reasonable choice for individuals at risk of developing a serious illness, such as the elderly, who should be given priority when vaccinating, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said.

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In May, the WHO said new vaccine formulations should trigger an antibody response to the XBB.1.5 or XBB.1.16 variants, adding that other formulas that achieve a similar neutralizing response against XBB subvariants could also be considered.

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