Omicron variant: Biontech tests vaccine efficacy.

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The spread of a new potentially dangerous variant of coronavirus in southern Africa has caused international concern. Experts fear that variant B.1.1.529, aka Omikron, could be highly contagious because of an unusually large number of mutations and could also more easily penetrate the protective shield of vaccines. Pharmaceutical company Biontech is looking into a possible adaptation of its mRNA vaccine.

“We understand the concern of experts and have immediately initiated investigations into variant B.1.1.529,” a Biontech spokesman said Friday. “The variant is clearly different from previously observed variants as it has additional mutations in the spike protein.” More advanced data from the lab tests are expected in two weeks at the latest, he said. “These data will tell us whether B.1.1.529 could be an escape variant that would require us to adjust our vaccine if it spreads internationally.”

Biontech said it made preparations for such an eventuality months ago with its U.S. partner Pfizer. The mRNA vaccine would then be adapted within six weeks. Initial batches of the adapted vaccine could be shipped within 100 days, according to the company.

Meanwhile, the variant has also been detected in Europe for the first time.

  • source: kurier.at/picture:pixabay.com
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