Executive says Moderna could have Ômicron vaccine ready in March

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Moderna may have a booster dose against Covid-19, aimed at combating the Ômicron variant, tested and ready to apply for authorization in the US in March, company president Stephen Hoge said on Wednesday (1).

Hoge said he believed that booster doses carrying genes that specifically target mutations in the newly discovered Ômicron variant would be the quickest way to deal with any anticipated reductions in vaccine effectiveness that it might cause. “We’ve already started this program,” he said.

The company is also working on a multivalent vaccine that would include up to four different variants of the coronavirus, including Ômicron. This could take another several months, according to the executive.

The United States has identified its first Covid-19 case caused by the Ômicron variant in California, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Wednesday.

Ômicron, classified as a “concern variant” by the World Health Organization, is being studied to see if it is more contagious or causes more severe disease than other variants and whether it can escape current vaccines.

Given previous guidance from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which has required intermediate clinical trials, Hoge said the process could take three to four months.

Moderna could manufacture the vaccine while it runs the tests, Hoge said, to have it ready for launch as soon as possible.

He said the FDA is currently evaluating the threat to vaccine protection posed by the Ômicron variant.

The agency could provide a faster timeline, similar to how it approves flu vaccines, depending on the emergence of strains, which would shorten the timeline to three to four months.

In the United States, licensed flu vaccines can be updated each season, replacing them with new strains of the virus likely to cause the illness in the following season, without the need for large randomized clinical trials.

Reference: CNN Brasil

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