New York: Vaccine maker Moderna could have a COVID-19 booster shot targeting the Omicron variant. Company president Stephen Hoge said he believes booster shots carrying genes specifically targeting mutations in the newly-discovered Omicron variant would be the quickest way to address any anticipated reductions in vaccine efficacy it may cause. "We've already started that program," he told Reuters.
The company is also working on a multi-valent vaccine that would include up to four different coronavirus variants including Omicron, however the company said that could take several months. Omicron, dubbed a "variant of concern" by the World Health Organization, is being studied to see if it is more contagious or causes more severe illness than other variants, and if it can evade current vaccines.
The process could take three or four months
Given prior guidance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which has required mid-stage clinical testing, Hoge said the process could take three or four months. "The Omicron-specific boosters, just realistically, are not before March and maybe more in the second quarter," Hoge said, unless the FDA changes its guidance for what data would be needed for authorization.
Moderna would be able to manufacture the vaccine as it was conducting the testing, "to have it ready to roll out as soon as possible." The vaccine maker further said the FDA is currently assessing the threat to vaccine protection posed by the Omicron variant. The agency could provide a faster timeline, akin to the way it approves vaccines for influenza, by approving changes in the flu strains, which would shorten the three- to four-month timeline.
Based on the pattern of mutations seen in the Omicron variant, which include mutations that have already been shown to reduce the efficacy of its vaccine in lab studies, Hoge said, "we expect there will be an impact."
It is not clear yet how big of a drop in efficacy the Omicron variant will cause for current vaccines, but it could be significant, Hoge surmised according to Reuters.
"The mutations that had previously led to the biggest drops in efficacy were seen in Delta and Beta. And all of those mutations have shown up in Omicron," Hoge said.
"And so the question here is, are we going to see a Delta-like performance? Are we going to see a Beta-like performance? Or are we going to see some cross multiple of the two? I think it's that last scenario that has people most concerned," he said.
Are Moderna's vaccine are protected against the variant?
Hoge said the company is testing to see whether fully vaccinated recipients of Moderna's vaccine are protected against the variant, as well as those who received the 50-microgram and 100-microgram booster doses of the shot. "I still believe that the existing vaccines will be able to at least slow down, if not completely stop, the Omicron variant," he said.
US confirms first case of omicron in California
The United States identified its first COVID-19 case caused by the Omicron variant in California, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Wednesday. Giving further details, White House chief medical advisor Dr Anthony Fauci said the person, who was fully vaccinated, had just returned from traveling in South Africa to the San Francisco area on November 22 and tested positive on November 29.
Source : https://www.msn.com/en-in/news/other/booster-shot-for-omicron-by-march-heres-what-vaccine-maker-moderna-has-to-say/ar-AARmV40610