Moderna CEO urges people to get vaxxed against Omicron variant, new vaccine ready early 2022

The current vaccines may be enough to stave off infection, but still being studied.

Belmont Lay | November 29, 2021, 12:01 PM

Follow us on Telegram for the latest updates:

Moderna might be able to roll out a reformulated vaccine against the Omicron coronavirus variant by early 2022, its CEO Paul Burton said on Nov. 28.

He added that he suspects the new Omicron coronavirus variant may elude current vaccines.

Currently, it is still not clear whether new formulations will be needed, or if existing Covid vaccinations will provide protection against the new variant that has detected in many countries around the world.

Could just take weeks to find out if current vaccines sufficient

“We should know about the ability of the current vaccine to provide protection in the next couple of weeks, but the remarkable thing about the mRNA vaccines, Moderna platform is that we can move very fast,” Burton said on the Andrew Marr Show on BBC.

“If we have to make a brand new vaccine I think that’s going to be early 2022 before that’s really going to be available in large quantities,” the Moderna chief added.

The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based biotech company mobilised "hundreds" of staff early last Thursday, Nov. 25, Thanksgiving Day in the United States, after news of the Omicron variant spread.

Protection should still exist

Protection should still exist, depending on how long ago a person was vaccinated, and for now the best advice is to take one of the current Covid-19 vaccines, Burton also said.

"If people are on the fence, and you haven't been vaccinated, get vaccinated," he said.

"This is a dangerous-looking virus, but I think we have many tools in our armamentarium now to fight it."

Moderna said in a release earlier on Friday, Nov. 26 that it was working rapidly to test the current vaccine against the Omicron variant, and studying two booster candidates.

"Since early 2021, Moderna has advanced a comprehensive strategy to anticipate new variants of concern," the company said.

"The company has repeatedly demonstrated the ability to advance new candidates to clinical testing in 60 to 90 days."

Omicron status

Omicron has been classified as a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization, meaning it is more contagious, more virulent, or better able to evade public health measures, vaccines and therapeutics.

The variant contains 30 mutations to the spike protein that allows the virus to enter the body.

The emergence of the Omicron strain has seen countries rush to clamp down on travel from southern Africa.

Global recovery plans scuttled

Fears of Omicron spreading worldwide and putting back in place restrictions sent a wave of risk aversion across global markets.

The worry is that it could exacerbate a winter Covid-19 surge in the northern hemisphere and undermine a global economic recovery in what has been a nearly two-year-long Covid-19 pandemic thus far.

Follow and listen to our podcast here