Moderna’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Paul Burton said Monday that the company is testing its Covid-19 vaccine against the new Omicron variant, a variant he is watching with concern.
He said research from Seattle suggests the Omicron variant probably emerged in South Africa or Botswana, laid relatively low, and then suddenly in early November exploded to become the dominant strain, displacing the Delta variant in South Africa.
"It's now in maybe 20 countries around the world, and we're counting individual cases, which feels very reminiscent to me to perhaps February or March of last year where we were counting cases, and we obviously know how that played out," Burton said. "So, I think all of the evidence points to the fact, Wolf, that this is a very transmissible virus, and one that we need to take very seriously."
Moderna’s CEO Stephane Bancel said earlier that he thought the variant would have an impact on the vaccine’s efficacy.
The company is currently studying the variant using samples from people who have gotten the Moderna vaccine at different doses to see how it can neutralize the “very worrying” variant, Burton said. He added that Moderna is also developing an Omicron-specific Covid-19 booster that would take two to three months to get into testing and then into production.