Novavax added it has already started creating a COVID-19 vaccine based on the known genetic sequence of B.1.1.529 “and will have it ready to begin testing and manufacturing within the next few weeks”.
Vaccine manufacturers have expressed confidence that they will be able to rapidly adapt their jabs if the Omicron variant spreads.
The new strain – previously known as B.1.1.529 – features some “concerning” mutations, and early evidence suggests it brings an increased risk of reinfection.
There are also fears that the variant could be more resistant to the vaccines that have now been rolled out to billions of people around the world.
If this is the case, Pfizer and BioNTech expects “to be able to develop and produce a tailor-made vaccine against that variant in approximately 100 days, subject to regulatory approval”.data-full-width=””>
Moderna said it has advanced a “comprehensive strategy to anticipate new variants of concern” since early 2021 – including three levels of response if the immunity offered by its jabs wanes.