A registered nurse applies on 24.
Shannon Stapleton | Reuters
Moderna chief medical officer Paul Burton said Sunday the vaccine maker could launch a reformulated vaccine against the variant Omicron coronavirus early next year.
It is not clear whether new formulations are needed or whether current Covid vaccinations offer protection against the new variant that has spread worldwide.
“We should know about the current vaccine’s ability to provide protection in the next few weeks, but what is remarkable about the Moderna platform’s MRNA vaccines is that we can move forward very quickly,” Burton said in the Andrew Marr Show “the BBC. “
“If we have to make a brand new vaccine, I think it will be early 2022 before it really becomes available in large quantities,” added the Moderna boss.
Omicron has been classified as a “Concerning Variant” by the World Health Organization, which means it is more contagious, virulent, or adept at bypassing public health measures, vaccines, and therapeutics. The variant contains 30 mutations of the spike protein, which allows the virus to enter the body. Officials have warned that many of these mutations could lead to increased antibody resistance and transmissibility, which could limit the effectiveness of existing Covid vaccines.
The vaccine maker “mobilized hundreds” of workers as of early Thursday morning on Thanksgiving to begin researching the new variant, the company said in a statement.
Current vaccines might offer some protection depending on how long a person has been injected, Burton said. Still, he said that unvaccinated people should get vaccinated or get their booster vaccination if they are eligible.