Oxford university and AstraZeneca have begun work to produce an Omicron-targeted version of their coronavirus vaccine, The Financial Times reported on Tuesday.
When asked about Omicron, Sandy Douglas, a research group leader at Oxford, told FT, “Like with many previous variants of concern, and together with our partners AstraZeneca, we have taken preliminary steps in producing an updated vaccine in case it is needed.”
“Adenovirus-based vaccines [such as that made by Oxford/AstraZeneca] could in principle be used to respond to any new variant more rapidly than some may previously have realized. [They have] really important advantages, especially where need and logistical challenges are greatest,” he added.
AstraZeneca said in a statement, “Together with Oxford University, we have taken preliminary steps in producing an Omicron variant vaccine, in case it is needed and will be informed by emerging data.”
Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said a few weeks ago that three doses of the company's coronavirus vaccine would remain effective even against the Omicron variant, but also said that a new vaccine specifically made to combat the new strain could be ready in 100 days.
Moderna, meanwhile, announced on Monday that data showed the booster shot of its COVID-19 vaccine increases neutralizing antibodies against the Omicron variant.
On Tuesday, Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel said Moderna hopes to start clinical trials early next year on a vaccine to protect against the Omicron but for now is focusing on a booster dose of its current vaccine.