Pfizer and BioNTech announced on Friday that its COVID-19 vaccine could be reworked in “approximately 100 days” to counter a new variant of the CCP virus that may be able to penetrate through vaccines.
The U.S.-based pharmaceutical company said in a statement obtained by news agency Reuters it expects more data on B.1.1.529, the new variant of the virus that was dubbed “Omicron” by the World Health Organization (WHO), to determine whether its vaccine would have to be reworked.
“We understand the concern of experts and have immediately initiated investigations on variant B.1.1.529,” BioNTech said in the statement when asked to comment.
“We expect more data from the laboratory tests in two weeks at the latest,” it added. “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.”
According to an early study on the variant that was published in a statement by the WHO, the agency suggested that the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus strain has a higher risk of reinfection compared to other variants such as Delta or the Alpha strain. The new strain was first detected in Botswana and South Africa earlier this month.
On a global level, authorities have reacted with alarm to Omicron and a number of countries, including the United States and Britain, have already tightened border controls, a move criticized by Joe Phaahla, South Africa’s health minister.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed this week that no cases of the South African CCP virus variant have been identified in the United States as of yet.
Besides Pfizer, also Johnson & Johnson (J&J) has announced it has started to test the effectiveness of its shots against the B.1.1.529 variant.
“We are closely monitoring newly emerging COVID-19 virus strains with variations in the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein and are already testing the effectiveness of our vaccine against the new and rapidly spreading variant first detected in southern Africa,” a spokesperson for J&J wrote in an email to FOX News.
Moderna said in a statement it is working to advance a booster candidate tailored to the new variant and has also been testing a higher dose of its existing booster and to study other booster candidates designed to protect against multiple variants.
“A booster dose of an authorized vaccine represents the only currently available strategy for boosting waning immunity,” Moderna said.