Jagran Explainer: Will COVID vaccines work against Omicron variant? Here's what vaccine manufacturers have to say

Jagran Explainer: As s the concerns over the severity of this new variant grew stronger, one question which many have in their minds is that would the existing vaccines against COVID-19 that are currently available in the world are effective against the new variant or not

By Talibuddin Khan
Sat, 04 Dec 2021 01:22 PM IST
Minute Read
Jagran Explainer: Will COVID vaccines work against Omicron variant? Here's what vaccine manufacturers have to say
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New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: The arrival of the omicron variant of the coronavirus has health officials globally reviving contact tracing operations in an attempt to slow and better understand its spread as scientists study how contagious it is and whether it can thwart vaccines. While much is still unknown about the variant, early reports are raising alarms. New COVID-19 cases in South Africa, which first alerted the world to omicron last week, have burgeoned from about 200 a day in mid-November to more than 16,000 on Friday.

As the concerns over the severity of this new variant grew stronger, one question which many have in their minds is that would the existing vaccines against COVID-19 that are currently available in the world are effective against the new variant or not. At present, Covishield, Covaxin, Moderna, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and Sputnik are some of the vaccines that are being used to vaccinate people across the globe. But will these vaccines work against the new Omicron variant? Let's know what vaccine manufacturers have to say.

Serum Institute of India (SII):

Serum Institute of India -- which is manufacturing Covishield -- CEO Adar Poonawalla said that the efficacy of the Covishield vaccine against the variant will be known in the next 2-3 weeks as studies are underway at the moment to ascertain whether this new variant is more dangerous than the Delta variant or not. Meanwhile, the SII has also asked the government for its nod to approve Covishield for booster dose amid growing concerns over the Omicron variant.

According to a report by news agency IANS, Poonawalla said that scientists at Oxford are engaged... a new vaccine might be developed that can come as a booster dose in the coming months. The University of Oxford, which makes the coronavirus vaccine with AstraZeneca, in a statement, said there was "no evidence so far" that existing vaccines would not continue to provide protection against Omicron, as they have for previous variants of concern.

Bharat Biotech:

Bharat Biotech which indigenously developed Covaxin said that it is studying whether its vaccine would work against variants of coronavirus such as Omicron.

BioNTech and Pfizer:

Pfizer vaccine will offer strong protection against any severe symptom caused by Omicron, Reuters quoted BioNTech's Chief Executive Officer. He further said that an established vaccine will likely prevent hospitalisation. Though lab tests to analyze the efficacy are underway, if needed, BioNTech is ready to relaunch the vaccine in the next 100 days.

Moderna on Omicron:

Stephane Bancel, chief executive at Moderna, said that currently available vaccines for Covid-19 could likely be less effective against the new Omicron variant. He added that it will take several months before pharma companies can manufacture variant-specific jabs at scale, The Financial Times reported.

Speaking on existing version efficacy, Moderna’s Chief Medical Officer Paul Burton said that they can roll out a reformulated vaccine against the Omicron variant early next year. He added that as of now it's not clear whether new formulations will be required, or if the current Covid vaccine will provide protection against new variants.

Russia's Sputnik V:

Russia's Gamaleya Institute also believes that both Sputnik V and Sputnik Light will neutralise Omicron. The Gamaleya Institute, based on existing protocols of immediately developing vaccine versions for variants of concern, has already begun developing the new version of the Sputnik vaccine adapted to Omicron, said Kirill Dmitriev, CEO of the Russian Direct Investment Fund. However, in an unlikely case, such modification is needed, the new Sputnik Omicron version can be made ready for mass-scale production in 45 days, he added.

Moderna:

As per Moderna's Bancel, the high number of Omicron mutations on the spike protein, which the virus uses to infect human cells, and the rapid spread of the variant in South Africa, suggested that the current crop of vaccines may need to be modified next year.


(With Agency Inputs)

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