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Global pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer and Moderna… Started development of Omicron vaccine

(Photo = AFP)

[이데일리 방성훈 기자] The world’s major COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers are quick to respond to the new mutation ‘Omicron’. This is because there are warnings from experts such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and scientists with concerns about Omicron, such as high contagiousness and the possibility of incapacitating the vaccine.

According to CNBC and the Financial Times (FT) on the 27th (local time), Moderna said in a statement on the same day that it had started developing a booster shot to respond to a new strain of Corona 19 concern, Omicron. It is in progress,” he announced.

Moderna has demonstrated the effectiveness of three measures: △increasing the dose of an existing vaccine, △developing a ‘multivalent vaccine’ that can simultaneously respond to existing pathogens and new mutations, and △developing a new vaccine that directly responds to omicron mutations. He explained that he was researching. It also predicted that it would take 60 to 90 days for the first experimental vaccine to be produced.

Moderna said that administering a booster shot of an approved vaccine is currently the only strategy to increase immunity, and vowed to develop a booster shot (boost shot) specialized for omicron mutations.

“From the beginning, we have said we are working to defeat the pandemic,” Moderna CEO Stefan Bansel said in a statement. As the virus evolves, it is necessary to take preemptive measures. “For a few days, we are moving as fast as possible to implement our strategy to address this mutation.”

Pfizer and Biontech also announced on the same day that “understanding the concerns of experts, we immediately started an investigation into the omicron mutation.” He added that more experimental data could be obtained within two weeks at the latest, so that information on whether Omicron could become an ‘escape variant’ could be obtained.

Escape mutation refers to a case in which the existing messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) vaccine needs to be adjusted. Pfizer and Biontech are using a similar virus designed to look like a new mutation to see if existing vaccines are less effective.

Pfizer and Biontech also predicted that the existing mRNA vaccine could be adapted to the omicron mutation within six weeks, and that if an escape mutation was confirmed, the new modified vaccine could be delivered within 100 days.

AstraZeneca also announced that it is conducting related research in Botswana and Eswatini, where Omicron is spreading. AstraZeneca said its vaccine platform, developed in collaboration with Oxford University in particular, made it possible to respond quickly when new mutations emerge.

In addition, US pharmaceutical companies Novavax and Johnson & Johnson announced that they had started testing and developing a new vaccine targeting Omicron mutations, respectively.

“The technology used in the existing coronavirus vaccine can be quickly applied to the Omicron mutation,” Novavax said, optimistic that the Novavax vaccine would provide protection against the new mutation.

Johnson & Johnson said it was testing the effectiveness of a vaccine targeting Omicron, and said, “We are closely monitoring the portion of Omicron that contains high amounts of the spike protein mutation, which is the most worrisome.”

The reason pharmaceutical companies are reacting so quickly is to preoccupy the market, but Omicron has 32 gene mutations (twice the 16 delta mutations) in the spike protein, which is highly contagious and can invalidate the efficacy of existing vaccines. Foreign media explained that it is because there is concern that the possibility is large.

“The new mutation represents the need for more coronavirus vaccine research and development,” said Richard Hergott, CEO of the Coalition for Infectious Disease Innovations (CEPI). However, it is also important to focus efforts and resources on improving the current COVID-19 vaccine to create a more effective vaccine against multiple variants.”

Meanwhile, after the spread of Omicron, the stock prices of mRNA vaccine manufacturers soared on the 26th. Moderna rose 21%, BioNtech rose 17%, and Pfizer rose 7%.

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