CNBC – The world’s major manufacturers of Covid-19 vaccines said Friday that they are working to quickly investigate and adapt their shots to a new and highly mutated strain of the virus.
The World Health Organization on Friday said the new strain, named omicron, is a “variant of concern” that may pose a higher risk of reinfection than past mutations of the virus.
Pfizer and BioNTech said they are investigating omicron, first labeled B.1.1.529, and can adapt their vaccine quickly if needed.
“We understand the concern of experts and have immediately initiated investigations on variant B.1.1.529,” the companies said.
Pfizer and BioNTech said they expect more data from lab tests in two weeks at the latest.
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“These data will provide more information about whether B.1.1.529 could be an escape variant that may require an adjustment of our vaccine if the variant spreads globally,” the companies said.
Pfizer and BioNTech said they can adapt their mRNA vaccine within six weeks and start shipping batches within 100 days if an escape variant is identified.
Johnson & Johnson on Friday said they were already testing their vaccine against omicron.
“We are closely monitoring newly emerging COVID-19 virus strains with variations in the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein and are already testing the effectiveness of our vaccine against the new and rapidly spreading variant first detected in southern Africa,” J&J said.
AstraZeneca said it is also investigating the variant. Its vaccine platform developed with Oxford University enables a quick response to new mutations as they emerge, the company said.
“AstraZeneca is also already conducting research in locations where the variant has been identified, namely in Botswana and Eswatini,” the company said.
Moderna, in a statement Friday, said the combination of mutations in the variant “represents a significant potential risk to accelerate the waning of natural and vaccine-induced immunity” … READ MORE.