The B.1.1.529 variant of concern, now dubbed "Omicron" by the World Health Organization, has the world on high alert over its rapid spread… and vaccine manufacturers say they are working to develop Omicron-specific vaccines.
Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla says that the company has already started work on a new vaccine and it could be ready in less than 100 days.
He also said that Pfizer's COVID-19 treatment pill will be effective against the Omicron variant.
Johnson and Johnson has been working with academic groups in South Africa where the variant was first identified to evaluate the effectiveness of its adenovirus vaccine reiterating that they remain confident in its efficacy.
AstraZeneca had indicated similar efforts, adding that its vaccine platform developed jointly with Oxford University enables a quick response to new variants.
Moderna said it could have a tweaked version of its shot ready early next year if necessary.
However, it is not yet clear as to how effective the current COVID-19 vaccines will be against Omicron.
On Tuesday, the head of Moderna said that the current vaccines are unlikely to be as effective against Omicron as they have proved to be against the Delta variant,adding that all the scientists he talked to have hinted that it's not going to be good.
Pfizer's CEO had also shared similar sentiments.
"When it comes to the vaccine, that remains to be seen. I don't think that the result will be the vaccines don't protect. I think the results could be, which we don't know yet, that the vaccines protect less, which means that if the vaccines protect less, it is that we need to create a new vaccine."
What is more concerning is that scientists have pointed to the vaccine inequality around the world to be a cause of virus mutation which means there may be more variants in the horizon.
Kim Cheong-ah, Arirang News.