WHO says vaccines may need to be updated for the omicron variant
On Tuesday, a technical body from the World Health Organization (WHO) said that current COVID-19 vaccines will probably need to be reworked to be effective for omicron and new variants of coronavirus.
Do we have omicron-specific vaccines yet?
- Not quite yet.
- Vaccine makers have been trying to develop an omicron-specific vaccine since cases of omicron were first detected in South Africa.
- On Monday, Pfizer Inc. Chief Executive Officer Albert Bourla said a vaccine specific to omicron would be designed and launched in March of this year.
- Moderna Inc. is also working on a vaccine for omicron, but it is unlikely to be launched in the next two months.
What did the WHO say?
- On Tuesday, a technical body from the World Health Organization (WHO) said that current COVID-19 vaccines will probably need to be reworked to be effective for omicron and new variants of coronavirus.
- The statement said that an updated vaccine could be aimed specifically at the dominant variant (omicron in many regions), or it could be a “multivalent" vaccine, which means it’s designed to fight off several variants at once.
- “The composition of current COVID-19 vaccines may need to be updated to ensure that COVID-19 vaccines continue to provide WHO-recommended levels of protection against infection and disease by VOCs (variants of concern), including Omicron and future variants. COVID-19 vaccines need to … elicit immune responses that are broad, strong, and long-lasting in order to reduce the need for successive booster doses."
- The group also added that continuous booster doses of the original vaccine were “unlikely to be appropriate or sustainable."
- But they also didn’t recommend vaccine makers make an omicron-specific vaccine. Instead, they said that more data needed to be shared with them before they would make recommendations.
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