BioNTech SE is working to adapt its Covid-19 vaccine to address the 'Omicron' variant and expects to have a new version ready within 100 days if necessary.
The company has started development in order to move as quickly as possible, BioNTech said in a statement. The first steps of developing a new vaccine overlap with the research necessary in order to evaluate whether a new shot will be needed -- a process that began last Thursday as soon as news of the new variant began to spread around the world.
The German biotech and its Covid vaccine partner Pfizer Inc. put plans into place months ago to ensure a new version of their shot could ship within 100 days if necessary. The 'Omicron' variant has raised concerns around the world, with countries implementing travel bans to buy time as researchers race to study whether it will evade vaccines and spread more rapidly. It will probably take weeks to understand the full impact of the variant, scientists have said.
Moderna Inc., which makes another messenger-RNA vaccine for Covid, has begun a similar process of evaluation and development, should a new shot be necessary. Both companies have said it should become clear within weeks whether an adapted vaccine will be needed.
Vaccinated people should still be protected, depending on how long ago they got their shots, and for now the best advice is to take one of the current Covid vaccines, Moderna Chief Medical Officer Paul Burton said on Sunday on the BBC's "Andrew Marr Show."
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