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Pharmaceutical firms announce they have plans in place to adapt their COVID-19 vaccines if necessary after Omicron cases emerge in some countries

Pharmaceutical firms announce they have plans in place to adapt their COVID-19 vaccines if necessary after Omicron cases emerge in some countries

By Vijay Narayan
Sunday 28/11/2021
[Image: File Photo]

With the emergence of the Omicron COVID-19 variant, which has now been detected in southern Africa, Europe, Israel and Hong Kong, a number of pharmaceutical firms are announcing they have plans in place to adapt their vaccines if necessary.

WBNS reports scientists say there is still much to learn about the new variant, which the World Health Organization has listed a "variant of concern."

They know that Omicron is genetically distinct from previous variants including the Beta and Delta variants, but do not know if these genetic changes make it any more transmissible or dangerous.

So far, there is no indication the variant causes more severe disease.

It will also likely take weeks to sort out if Omicron is more infectious and if vaccines are still effective against it.

AstraZeneca, Moderna, Novavax and Pfizer say they already have plans to react.

Pfizer and its partner BioNTech say they have been monitoring for potential variants capable of evading its mRNA vaccine.

Pfizer says in the event that vaccine-escape variant emerges, Pfizer and BioNTech expect to be able to develop and produce a tailor-made vaccine against that variant in approximately 100 days, subject to regulatory approval.

Moderna says it has been developing a strategy since early 2021 to respond to new variants of concern and has identified three response options.

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