The Omicron variant is spreading rapidly in the world and researchers are engineering new vaccines for it.
Pfizer and BioNTech have started a clinical trial to examine a new vaccine designed to target the Omicron variant, according to a press statement released Tuesday.
“While current research and real-world data show that boosters continue to provide a high level of protection against severe disease and hospitalization with Omicron, we recognize the need to be prepared in the event this protection wanes over time and to potentially help address Omicron and new variants in the future,” Kathrin U. Jansen, Pfizer’s senior vice president and head of vaccine research and development, said in a statement. “Staying vigilant against the virus requires us to identify new approaches for people to maintain a high level of protection, and we believe developing and investigating variant-based vaccines, like this one, are essential in our efforts towards this goal.”
This vaccine will be tested for safety, tolerability, and the level of immunological response in up to 1,420 healthy adults aged 18 to 55, both as a primary series and a booster dose.
The participants will be put into three groups. Each group will receive one, two, or three doses of the vaccine. One group will have people who have already received two doses of the current Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and will also receive the Omicron vaccine. Another group will receive the omicron vaccine on top of three doses of the current Pfizer vaccine. Unvaccinated people will make up the third group. They will receive three shots of the omicron vaccine.
A Pfizer spokesperson confirmed to CNN that the corporation has already started producing this vaccine.
“In the wake of Omicron, we are proactively investigating and manufacturing at risk an Omicron-based vaccine should it be needed, but we, of course, need to have results and discussions with health authorities as well as approvals before it would be deployed,” the spokesperson told CNN.
Moderna is also planning to begin trials of its own Omicron-specific shot, with Oxford University and AstraZeneca developing a new version of their vaccine.