BioNTech announces vaccine development for Omicron variant

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BioNTech has announced that it is developing an adapted vaccine as a “precautionary measure” for the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

According to the German vaccine manufacturer, it will simultaneously carry out research on the nature of the variant.

A BioNTech spokeswoman on Monday said, “to avoid wasting time, we are tackling these two tasks in parallel until the data is available and we have more information on whether the vaccine needs to be adapted or not”.

“We immediately began studies on the Omicron variant,” the company said.

“We have also taken initial steps to develop a potential new vaccine, which overlaps with the laboratory tests.”

“The laboratory tests are necessary to assess whether a new vaccine is necessary or not. The process involves serum from vaccinated individuals being exposed to the spike protein of the variant to examine how it reacts.

“The goal of this approach is to move quickly in development should a variant-specific vaccine be required,” the company said.

Earlier on Friday, BioNTech said that the new variant is significantly different from previously observed variants because it had additional mutations on the spike protein.

Data from laboratory tests now underway would soon indicate whether an adjustment to the vaccine would be needed if this variant spreads internationally, it said. The company expects to have initial findings by the end of next week.