BioNTech said Monday it has started working on a COVID-19 vaccine to specifically target the new Omicron variant.
The biotechnology company, which co-created one of the current COVID-19 vaccines with Pfizer, said the development of an adapted shot is a standard process in the response to the emergence of any new variant.
BioNTech and Pfizer are both conducting studies to test whether their current shot may be effective against Omicron and have previously said that if necessary, they could ship a new vaccine tailored to the highly contagious variant in about 100 days.
“The first steps of developing a potential new vaccine overlap with the research necessary in order to evaluate whether a new shot will be needed,” the company said.
Moderna said Friday it is developing a booster candidate for its current vaccine that will be tailored to the new variant.
BioNTech has announced it will start production on an Omicron-specific vaccine. Abdulhamid Hosbas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
The company said it is testing a higher dose of its existing booster as well as studying other booster candidates designed to protect against multiple variants.
“A booster dose of an authorized vaccine represents the only currently available strategy for boosting waning immunity,” Moderna said in the statement.
Meanwhile, Johnson & Johnson, the maker of the only single-shot coronavirus vaccine used in the US, said it is evaluating its current immunization’s effectiveness against Omicron while also working on a new vaccine specifically targeting the variant.
BioNTech and Pfizer are both conducting studies to test whether their current shot may be effective against Omicron.JEFF PACHOUD/AFP via Getty Images
The World Health Organization warned Monday that the Omicron variant poses a “very high” risk of infection that could have “severe consequences” globally.
“The overall global risk related to the new variant … is assessed as very high,” the organization said, adding that it “has an unprecedented number of spike mutations, some of which are concerning for their potential impact on the trajectory of the pandemic.”
The company said it is testing a higher dose of its existing booster as well as studying other booster candidates designed to protect against multiple variants.REUTERS/Sergio Perez/File Photo
Experts said it’s too early to tell whether Omicron causes more severe illness compared to other strains, though the South African doctor who first sounded the alarm on the variant said its symptoms are “unusual but mild” in healthy patients.
With Post wires