Omicron Vaccine Expected to be Ready By March: Pfizer

"Vaccine against Omicron will be ready in March. I don't know if we will need it. I don't know if and how it will be used", Pfizer CEO said.

Updated: January 11, 2022 8:32 AM IST

By News Desk | Edited by Surabhi Shaurya

UK Approves Updated Moderna Vaccine Targeting Omicron Variant
UK Approves Updated Moderna Vaccine Targeting Omicron Variant

New Delhi: As the Omicron continues to create havoc across the globe, Pfizer, an American multinational pharmaceutical is expected to manufacture a Covid-19 vaccine targeting the new ‘highly transmissible’ variant by March. Albert Bourla, the company’s CEO said that Pfizer is already manufacturing doses as health authorities are dealing with large number of COVID-19 cases, including large numbers of ‘breakthrough’ Omicron cases in vaccinated populations.

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Speaking exclusively to CNBC, Bourla further asserted that this vaccine against Omicron will be ready in March. “I don’t know if we will need it. I don’t know if and how it will be used.”

“While the existing regime of two vaccine shots and a booster has provided “reasonable” protection against Omicron, a vaccine focused directly on the Omicron variant would also guard against breakthrough infections of a strain that has proven highly contagious and has triggered many mild or asymptomatic cases”, CNBC quoted Bourla as saying.

On the other hand, Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel informed that his company is developing a booster that could fight against Omicron and other emerging strains.

“We are discussing with public health leaders around the world to decide what we think is the best strategy for a potential booster for the fall of 2022. We need to be careful to try to stay ahead of a virus and not behind the virus”, he told CNBC.

Meanwhile, a study has claimed that cellular immunity elicited by existing Covid-19 vaccines can fight the Omicron Covid variant.

The yet-to-be peer-reviewed study, which focussed on Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson’s Covid shots, showed that vaccines will protect against severe disease even if the antibody responses against the strain are not as strong or durable.

“These data suggest that current vaccines may provide considerable protection against severe disease with the Sars-Cov-2 Omicron variant despite the substantial reduction of neutralising antibody responses,” the researchers from Harvard medical school wrote in the study.

Previous evidence suggests that the existing vaccines lose antibody response when pitted against Omicron. A third shot at least partially restores that antibody protection, and countries have been racing to scale up their booster programmes to avoid new restrictions.

But vaccines are still expected to protect against severe disease, and health authorities have said they would closely examine evidence such as the one contained in the new study to decide whether a switch to Omicron-targeted vaccines is necessary.

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Published Date: January 11, 2022 8:30 AM IST

Updated Date: January 11, 2022 8:32 AM IST