Covid vaccines in development against new Omicron variant – when can we expect them?

Coronavirus: UK cases surpass ten million during pandemic

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The large number of mutations present on the Omicron coronavirus strain have raised alarm bells in the scientific community. Changes to the binding site for antibodies mean that the resistance provided by previous infections and existing vaccines may not protect against Omicron. Vaccine manufacturers are currently racing to analyse the new virus and determine whether they need to develop and manufacture a new series of vaccines. BioNTech has declared they should be able to manufacture and distribute a modified version of the Pfizer vaccine within 100 days.

BioNTech explains that mRNA vaccines allow for a standardised production pipeline that is able to produce an experimental batch within the first week.

The active component of the vaccine, the mRNA, can be substituted with the mRNA sequence for the altered virus allowing for an updated vaccine.

The new vaccine will still need to be tested, followed by production and distribution of the updated vaccine.

The mRNA vaccine production process greatly reduces the timescale of the overall process of vaccine rollout.

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