Amidst the scare caused by the new variant of Coronavirus, Omicron, Pfizer, and Moderna are claiming that they're capable of quickly finding a way to fight the challenges presented by the new South African variant. The new variant is believed to be the most infectious and most resistant to the vaccines yet. Pfizer and Moderna, however, claim that they can quickly update the vaccine to make it effective against the new variant if needed.
The new variant, which was originally reported in Africa, is yet to be detected in the US. Multiple cases of Omicron, however, have been reported in various countries in Africa and Europe, pushing several countries to put a ban on travel to and from Southern Africa.
According to data published Wednesday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 108 million Americans got the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and 71.5 million received the Moderna shot. Johnson & Johnson, on the other hand, provided immunization to 16 million Americans.
'Pfizer can ship out the updated vaccine within 100 days'
On Friday, November 26, CNBC's Meg Tirell said on TechCheck Friday that Moderna and BioNTech, and Pfizer have assured they're already looking into what appears to be a grave situation and that they can quickly make amends to their already existing vaccines to make them compliant to the new variant.
According to Tirell, Moderna can begin clinical trials for vaccines competent against a potentially resistant variant under 60 days. She further claimed that Pfizer can adapt its mRNA vaccine under six weeks and would have the product ready to ship out within 100 days if necessary. BioNTech expects lab data within two weeks that will clarify whether this is really an escaped variant, one that can really evade the protections of the vaccines, Tirell said. Johnson & Johnson also noted they're testing its vaccine's effectiveness against the new variant.
'Unusual constellation of mutations'
Tirell further noted that the new variant has more than '30 mutations on the spike protein,' some of which have been associated with 'increased transmissibility' and the potential to render the protection from vaccine useless.' "They [the experts] call it an unusual constellation of mutations," she said. Whether the unpredictability of the virus confers to more severe disease or less severe disease is not known at this point, Tirell added.