Vaccine producers are accelerating pace to respond to possible spread of Omicron, a new COVID-19 variant. Vaccine makers say that they can leverage their vaccine manufacturing experience to come up with a new vaccine capable of responding to Omicron in two or three months. Experts say that the relatively short amount of time needed to come up with a new vaccine is due to vaccine producers’ efforts in preparing ahead of variants.
BioNTech, a German biotechnology company that developed Pfizer’s vaccine together, announced, “We will be able to release a new vaccine to treat the new variant in 100 days” in a statement sent to Reuters on Friday (local time). “We are aware of the experts’ concerns and immediately launched research on the Omicron variant. We will be able to get more data with lab results in two weeks at the latest,” said BioNTech. The company added that it would use this data to determine whether existing vaccines should be adjusted to the new variant.
Moderna also released a statement on the same day, announcing that it would work on a new booster shot adjusted to Omicron. “It will take 60 to 90 days to manufacture new candidate materials in building vaccines for lab use,” said Moderna. The vaccine producer explained that it is also researching new vaccine development methods capable of responding to multiple variants and increases doses for existing booster shots.
Novavax also said that it was developing a new vaccine for Omicron and that it would take several weeks in experimenting and manufacturing. Pfizer and Moderna stocks rose 6.1% and 20.6% respectively on the New York Stock Exchange on November 26. Novavax stocks also rose by nearly 9%.
Johnson & Johnson also released a statement on the same day saying that they are monitoring the new variant virus and testing vaccine effectiveness for Omicron. Astra Zeneca said that “research is already underway at Botswana and other regions where the variant was confirmed.”
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