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Big Pharma unveils plans to tackle new ‘Omicron’ strain – RT World News

A number of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies have announced strategies to tackle a newly identified variant of Covid-19 dubbed Omicron, including plans to modify existing vaccines and develop new boosters.

With the World Health Organization (WHO) designating Omicron the latest “Variant of concern” Following an emergency meeting on Friday, warning that the highly mutated strain could be more infectious than those seen before, Big Pharma quickly went into RP mode, as several companies rushed to explain how they would fight the new variant.

Pfizer – which has produced one of the world’s most commonly used Covid vaccines alongside its German partner BioNTech – told Fox Business it was ” to remain vigilant “ and “constantly” watch for new variants that could “Potentially escapes protection” of his vaccine.

“In the case where [a] an escape variant of the vaccine is emerging, Pfizer and BioNTech expect to be able to develop and produce a bespoke vaccine against this variant in approximately 100 days, subject to regulatory approval ”, the company added, but did not say whether specific research had been carried out on Omicron so far.

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BioNTech, in a separate statement, noted that Omicron “Significantly different from the previously observed variants because it has additional mutations located in the spike protein”, referring to the mechanism by which the coronavirus accesses host cells and causes infection. The company also said that a so-called “Escape variant” could “Requires adjustment of our vaccine if the variant spreads globally.”

Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, two other leading Covid vaccine developers, released similar missives on Friday, with the latter company saying it is already testing a booster for healthy adults that contains twice the dose of vaccine than is currently approved. Moderna also said that she is currently studying two booster candidates specifically designed for “Anticipate mutations such as those that emerged in the Omicron variant”.

J&J, whose single-dose vaccine differs from others on the market, also told Fox that it was testing its effectiveness of vaccinating Janssen against Omicron and “Watch closely” mutations in the virus spike protein.

“It is very important to study the new variant”, Kirill Dmitriev, head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which funded the development of the Sputnik V vaccine, acknowledged in an interview with RT on Friday. If the strain is found to be resistant to current vaccines, he said he was confident Russian scientists could “Adapt Sputnik V to the new variant very quickly. “

Following a meeting with Chinese researchers to discuss the possibility of combination vaccinations, Dmitriev also called for more international cooperation in creating a diverse portfolio of vaccines to tackle the most dangerous strains.

The WHO designation of Omicron, formerly known as the B.1.1.529 variant, sparked near-global panic on Friday, including travel restrictions to countries on multiple continents and stock markets across the globe. . Despite the alarm, however, little is still known about the new strain – or whether it is more transmissible or deadly compared to other variants – and the WHO has said it could take several weeks of research to find out. start answering these questions.

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