German Biotechnology Company, BioNTech, which manufactures vaccines has started the development of a new Covid-19 vaccine that aims to combat the Omicron variant.
The vaccine manufacturer, which partners with US giant, Pfizer on Covid-19 vaccines, is reported to have said that it had initiated the development of an adapted vaccine for Omicron to allow it to move forward quickly.
The vaccine is to serve as a precautionary measure while simultaneously carrying out investigation and research on the nature of the new Omicron variant of the Coronavirus
Scientists and health officials around the world are closely tracking Omicron, or B.1.1.529, which was first detected in southern Africa. Public health experts say the new variant contains signs of being more transmissible or dangerous than other strains of the disease.
This was made known by the BioNTech spokesperson on Monday, November 29, when it said that to avoid wasting time, it was developing an updated vaccine as well as testing its existence shot pending when the data is available.
What the spokesperson on BioNTech is saying
The BioNTech in its statement said, “We understand the concern of experts and have immediately initiated investigations on the omicron variant (B.1.1.529) as well as the development of an adapted vaccine as part of our standard procedure for new variants.
“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 objective of this approach, which was initiated last Thursday, is to move forward quickly if a variant-specific vaccine is needed.
“We expect data from the laboratory tests in about 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.”
BioNTech earlier said that the new variant was significantly different from previously observed variants because it had additional mutations on the spike protein.
It added that it would be able to ship out new versions of its COVID-19 vaccine within 100 days if a new variant presented itself.
What you should know
Recall that a few days ago, the World Health Organization (WHO), had classified Omicron a “variant of concern”, although officials have stressed that relatively little is known about the variant at this stage.
The new Omicron Covid-19 variant which was reported to have been first discovered in South Africa, has spread to some other countries which include the UK, Portugal, the Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Belgium, Canada, Australia, Israel and Hong Kong, among other countries.
The extent of the actual spread of the omicron variant around the world, however, still remains unclear as countries discover new cases each day.