Pfizer & BioNTech Can Develop Vaccine Targeting Omicron Variant In 6 Weeks
The Omicron Covid-19 variant discovered in South Africa has triggered concerns globally. Chief among these concerns is whether existing vaccines will work against the new variant.
Pfizer and BioNTech, who developed the Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA vaccine, said on Friday (26 Nov) that they may be able to ship a new vaccine that’ll work against Omicron in approximately 100 days.
At the moment, they are expecting more data from laboratory tests within 2 weeks.
The data will determine if Omicron is an “escape variant” which requires adjustments to the vaccine.
Meanwhile, Moderna has advised that booster shots will be needed as immunity wanes.
Pfizer and BioNTech start investigations into Omnicron Covid-19 variant
Reuters reported that BioNTech has started investigations into the Omicron Covid-19 variant.
It has been deemed a variant of concern and there are fears that it may spark another wave of Covid-19 cases, with some countries, including Singapore, already tightening border restrictions.
Bloomberg reported that Pfizer and BioNTech have already made vaccine versions that target the Alpha and Delta variants, although clinical trials are ongoing.
However, these aren’t meant for sale and are instead meant to help speed up future vaccine relaunches.
Vaccine can be redesigned in 6 weeks
According to BioNTech, the vaccine can be redesigned to combat the new variant in just 6 weeks, and shipments can be made in around 100 days.
The data should be available in 2 weeks from laboratories at the latest.
Meanwhile, Moderna, which created another widely-available mRNA vaccine, said it is working to advance a booster candidate that’s made for the new variant.
It has also been testing a higher dose of its current booster.
According to Moderna, boosters are “the only currently available strategy for boosting waning immunity” from Covid-19.
Novavax testing vaccine variant
Meanwhile, another vaccine developer, Novavax, said it’s started working on a vaccine that targets the Omicron variant.
This vaccine works via an active spike protein that can trigger the immune system but not infect someone with Covid-19.
According to Novavax, the initial work will take a few weeks.
Work begins on combating Omicron variant
Almost as soon as Omicron was discovered by South Africa, many have scrambled to find a solution to the emerging variant of concern as it’s likely landed in several countries already.
While it is early days, we may be looking at a quick response to Omicron, and hopefully any other emerging variants in future.
This can then help us live with Covid-19.
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Featured image adapted from Mat Napo on Unsplash.