Home / Companies / News /  COVID-19: Not sure whether vaccine will work against ‘Variant of Concern’ Omicron, says Pfizer

Pfizer and BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine: Noting that they are not sure whether their vaccines would work against new COVID-19 variant 'Omicron, Pfizer and BioNTech promised to develop a new vaccine against the strain within 100 days. 

This comes after the new COVID-19 strain, the B.1.1.529, first traced in South Africa, has been identified as a Variant of Concern by World Health Organization. WHO named the variant with the Greek letter 'Omicron'. The variant has also been identified in Botswana, Belgium, Hong Kong and Israel.

‘Expect to develop new vaccine within 100 days’

In statement released on Friday, the companies said, "We understand the concern of experts and have immediately initiated investigations on variant B.1.1.529," BioNTech said in a statement when asked to comment.

Pfizer and BioNTech said they expect more data on Omicron within the next two weeks. “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," it added.

 "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 announced to be working on booster shot

Meanwhile, Moderna said on Friday it will develop a booster shot against the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus. It is one of three strategies the company is working to address the new threat, including a higher dose of its existing vaccine, Moderna said.

"The mutations in the Omicron variant are concerning and for several days, we have been moving as fast as possible to execute our strategy to address this variant," said Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel.

The new Covid variant has trigged alarm across the world.  Concerned about the discovery of a new coronavirus variant, Britain, the US, Canada banned flights from South African nations. Several other countries including Japan, Israel, Turkey, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates also toughened travel curbs.

Meanwhile, The India government instructed the states to ensure ‘rigorous screening and testing’ of all international travellers landing in India from ‘at risk’ countries.

The nations that are currently on the ‘at-risk’ list of India are – European countries, including the UK, South Africa, Brazil, Bangladesh, Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Singapore, Hong Kong and Israel.

So far, no case of the new Covid-19 variant has been reported in India. 

(With inputs from agencies)


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