Vaccine manufacturer v. Omikron

Several vaccine manufacturers have announced measures against the new variant Omikron.

For some, it is a question of adapting already authorised vaccines where necessary:

  • BioNTech and Pfizer will be testing how well their own, already approved vaccine protects against Omikron in the laboratory until around December 10. As a precaution, they are also already working on a vaccine adapted to the variant.
  • Moderna is testing how well its approved vaccine and the variant-adapted vaccine candidates under development also protect against Omikron. It is also directly initiating development of an Omicron-adapted vaccine.
  • According to the media report,AstraZeneca is also examining how well its approved vaccine protects against Omikron and believes it is in a position to quickly develop an adapted vaccine if necessary.
  • Janssen is also checking whether its own vaccine protects against Omikron and will develop a variant adapted to Omikron if necessary.

Several developers of Covid 19 vaccines that are not yet licensed (or not licensed in the EU) are also already reacting to the Omikron variant:

  • Novavax, for example, has begun developing a variant of its own vaccine adapted to Omikron, according to a media report. The original vaccine is currently in the approval process in the EU.
  • The Russian Russion Direct Fund (RDIF), responsible for the rollout of the Sputik V vaccine, has said that Sputnik V is effective against Omikron. The Moscow Gamaleya Institute, which developed the original version of Sputnik V, is already working on a booster version adapted to Omikron. The original version of Sputnik V is currently undergoing a rolling review at the EMA, which will turn into a regular approval procedure as soon as all chapters of the application have been submitted.
  • Shionogi, a Japanese manufacturer, will ensure that its protein-based vaccine S-268019, which is under development, also protects well against the Omicron variant, according to the media report. To do so, it is also considering adding a component adapted to Omikron. So far, the vaccine has reached Phase I/II trial testing in volunteers.
  • Daiichi Sankyo - another Japanese company, but which also has research laboratories in Germany - is currently investigating whether its mRNA vaccine under development can also protect against the Omikron variant, according to media reports. If not, a rapid adaptation to Omikron is possible. The vaccine is currently being tested in a Phase I/II trial with volunteers.
  • Everest Medicines and Providence Therapeutics (China and Canada) have begun work on an mRNA vaccine adapted to Omikron.
  • Takis Biotech and Rottapharm Biotech, two Italian companies, have worked on an Omikron-adapted variant of their DNA-based vaccine COVID-eVax. The original vaccine has produced positive results in Phase I.
  • Inovio is also developing a DNA-based vaccine (INO-4800) and has reached Phase III. The company is testing its efficacy against Omicron.

Nahaufnahme mit Hand eines Labormitarbeiters, der an einem Mikroskop forscht.

5 steps to a customised vaccine

For the development of a variant-adapted vaccine against SARS-CoV-2, based on an already licensed vaccine, the following steps are generally provided for by the EMA. In individual cases, however, the EMA may decide to deviate from these requirements.