On Thursday, Novavax Inc (NVAX.O) announced that it plans to start commercial production of a COVID-19 vaccine designed for the Omicron coronavirus variant in January of next year while also assessing whether its current vaccine is effective against the variant.
Within days of the Omicron variation being discovered, Pfizer and Moderna both stated that they were working on new versions of their mRNA COVID-19 vaccines. In addition, BioNTech, Moderna has claimed that it will enhance its current vaccine real soon.
A new variant-specific mRNA vaccine could be created and distributed in less than 100 days, according to BioNTech. Novavax is working on a whole new vaccine. It’s working on a protein subunit vaccine, which entails directing host cells to produce massive amounts of SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. After that, the proteins are harvested and moulded into a coronavirus-like shape.
Moreover, Novavax also revealed that research on an Omicron-specific spike protein antigen has begun and that laboratory testing of a novel vaccine targeting the Omicron variation will commence in the coming weeks. Laboratory results will show whether antibodies from people who have already gotten Novavax’s COVID-19 shot can neutralise the variant.
“The initial steps required to manufacture an Omicron-specific spike are underway, and GMP manufacturing in a commercial facility is anticipated in January 2022,” the company statement says. “Lab-based assessment of a new strain-matched nanoparticle vaccine will begin within a few weeks.”
Novavax further emphasises that clinical trial data show that the current vaccine formulation works quite well against all prevalent variants, namely Alpha, Beta, and Delta. Furthermore, while Omicron has several unique mutations, it also has a lot of mutations in common with earlier versions; thus, Novavax believes its existing vaccine will still be effective.
The Omicron variant has shaken markets and sparked global anxiety over fears that it would elude protection provided by commonly used vaccines, prolonging the public health catastrophe.
Novavax’s COVID-19 vaccine received its first emergency use approval in Indonesia in early November, followed by the Philippines. However, Novavax has said that due to the massive success of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, it will prioritise its early regulatory submissions to countries with more immediate needs. In the United States, submissions to the Food and Drug Administration is expected before the end of 2021.