On Friday, BioNTech, the company that partnered with Pfizer on the first COVID-19 vaccine to be given an Emergency Use Authorization by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), released a statement about the vaccine as it pertains to new strains, specifically the latest “Variant of Concern” known as Omicron.
“We expect more data from the laboratory tests in two weeks at the latest. 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,” the statement reads in part.
In a statement to Fox Business, a BioNTech spokesperson said that Pfizer/BioNTech could have a “tailor-made vaccine” for a “vaccine-escape variant” ready relatively swiftly:
In the event that vaccine-escape variant emerges, Pfizer and BioNTech expect to be able to develop and produce a tailor-made vaccine against that variant in approximately 100 days, subject to regulatory approval.
“The variant differs significantly from previously observed variants as it has additional mutations located in the spike protein,” the spokesperson added.
“Pfizer and BioNTech would be able to redesign their shot within six weeks and ship initial batches within 100 days, BioNTech added,” according to Reuters.
Moderna, the maker of a similar COVID-19 vaccine available in the United States, offered a similar comment, saying that they are looking into a variant booster shot. The Hill reports that Novavax, which makes a COVID-19 vaccine currently not approved in the United States, is also eyeing a variant-targeted vaccine.
As The Daily Wire reported:
The latest coronavirus variant, B.1.1.529, dubbed Omicron, was designated as a “Variant of Concern” by the World Health Organization on Friday following reports of the virus variant in South Africa.
“This variant has a large number of mutations, some of which are concerning. Preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of reinfection with this variant, as compared to other VOCs,” the WHO said in a statement released on Friday. “The number of cases of this variant appears to be increasing in almost all provinces in South Africa. Current SARS-CoV-2 PCR diagnostics continue to detect this variant.”
The governor of New York, Kathy Hochul, has already signed an Executive Order declaring a “Disaster Emergency” as the potential for a winter case-spike looms, and the Omicron variant emerges.
The prospect of the COVID-19 vaccines necessitating more than two shots has been talked about with increasing frequency. On November 21, former FDA head and current Pfizer board member Dr. Scott Gottlieb told “Face the Nation” host Margaret Brennan that he thinks “eventually this will be considered a three dose vaccine.” Gottlieb added that he doesn’t believe that the CDC would “make that recommendation any time soon.”