Pfizer, Moderna Already Planning Omicron Variant of COVID-19

Pfizer and Moderna said they have plans to deal with a variable vaccine-resistant scenario. Moderna said it is already testing a higher dose of a booster.

with the advent of Alternative Omicron COVID-19Now discovered in South Africa, Europe, Israel and Hong Kong, a number of drug companies are announcing that they have plans to adapt their vaccines if necessary.

Scientists say there is still much to learn about new variablelisted by the World Health Organization.”alternative to anxiety“They know that Omicron is genetically different from the previous one Variables Including beta and delta variants, but it is not known if these genetic changes make them more transmissible or dangerous. So far, there has been no indication that alternative It causes more severe disease.

It will also likely take weeks to determine if Omicron is more contagious and whether current vaccines will still be effective against it.

AstraZeneca, Moderna, Novavax and Pfizer say they already have plans to respond. Pfizer and partner BioNTech said they are monitoring potential variants capable of evading their mRNA vaccine.

“in case [a] An escape vaccine variant appears, and Pfizer and BioNTech expect to be able to develop and produce a customized vaccine against this variant in approximately 100 days, subject to regulatory approval,” Pfizer said in a statement.

Moderna said it has been developing a strategy since early 2021 to respond to the new variables of concern and identified three options for response. The first is to double the dose of the current COVID-19 booster from 50 mcg to 100 mcg.

“hundred [microgram] A dose of mRNA-1273 was also recently studied by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the US, and it generally resulted in the highest neutralization titer against previous SARS-CoV-2 strains,” Moderna said in a statement. It has already dosed 306 people. To test for safety and efficacy.

Moderna said its second strategy is to test two candidate polyvalent enhancers that are designed to predict mutations such as those in the omicron variant.

The third strategy, according to Moderna, is to rapidly develop an omicron-specific booster. The company said it is already working on this for other variants, including Delta. Moderna said it was able to make supporting candidates for clinical testing within 60-90 days.

Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson are the only manufacturers with vaccines approved for use in the United States. The FDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently approved boosters for all adults and they have the option to mix and match, so fully vaccinated people can get any type of booster they want or are available.

In a statement to TEGNA, a Janssen spokesperson said, “We are closely monitoring newly emerging strains of COVID-19 with variations in the SARS-CoV-2 elevation protein and are already testing the efficacy of our vaccine against the new, rapidly spreading variant first discovered in South Africa. And we remain steadfast in the benefits that the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine will provide to millions around the world.”

Professor Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, which developed the AstraZeneca vaccine, expressed cautious optimism that current vaccines could be effective in preventing serious disease from the omicron variant, noting that most mutations appear to be in regions similar to those in other variants.

“At least from a speculative point of view, we have some optimism that the vaccine should continue to work against a new variant of a dangerous disease, but in fact we need to wait several weeks to be sure,” he told BBC Radio.

The emergence of the variant, some experts said, made clear how wealthy nations stockpiling vaccines threatens to prolong the epidemic.

Less than 6% of people in Africa have been fully immunized against COVID-19, and millions of health workers and vulnerable populations still have not received a single dose. These conditions can accelerate the spread of the virus, providing more opportunities for it to develop into a dangerous variant.

Professor Peter Openshaw said, “One of the main factors for the emergence of variants may be the low rates of vaccination in parts of the world, and the warning of the World Health Organization that none of us are safe until we are all safe and must be heeded.” Experimental Medicine at Imperial College London.

South Africa has nearly 20 million doses of vaccines — made by Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson — but the number of people getting vaccinated is about 120,000 per day, well below the government’s target of 300,000 per day.

Maria Cheng and Pan Bellas of the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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