Omicron variant: Scientist warns how infectious strain may be
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The pharmaceutical giants both say that the modifications to current vaccines can be performed relatively quickly and efficiently. The recently emerged variant is believed to be the most infectious yet, and some fear it could evade protection provided by the current crop of coronavirus vaccines.
Attempts to combat the new variant are on high priority, as reports emerge that 61 passengers have been detained, testing positive for Covid-19, at Amsterdam’s Schipol airport following a flight arriving from South Africa.
Belgium has also reported a passenger testing positive following a flight from the same location.
CNBC’s Meg Tirell spoke to the pharma-giants and said: “Moderna and BioNTech and Pfizer tell us that they are already looking at this very closely and have told us they can update the vaccines very quickly if they need to.”
She claimed that Moderna can begin clinical trials for vaccines effective against a potentially resistant variant within 60 days.
She also reports that Pfizer can adapt its mRNA vaccine within six weeks if necessary, and would have a product to ship out within 100 days if need.
Johnson & Johnson, makers of another vaccine available in the U.S., also say it is testing its vaccine’s effectiveness against this new variant.
The new variant has more than 30 mutations and is believed to be able to evade vaccine protection from the virus.
Speaking on the variations, Ms Tirell said: “Still, some of these variants, their mutations aren’t known yet, and so their effect really isn’t understood.”
She also raised questions as to the potency of the new variants by saying: “So whether that confers to more severe disease or less severe disease, and that’s just not known at this point.”
Britain has temporarily banned flights from ten African countries as the nation’s health ministry investigates a new variant of the coronavirus.
The countries affected have been named include Botswana, South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini and Zimbabwe.
The ten nations will be added to the country’s red list, which would require travellers coming from those nations to quarantine on arrival.
Only weeks ago, Britain announced that it would stop requiring any travellers to quarantine in government-designated hotels, removing the last seven countries from its “red list” for coronavirus risk.
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Since the onset of the pandemic, a number of variants have emerged.
One underlying concern about new variants is whether they will halt progress against the pandemic or whether they will limit vaccine effectiveness.
114 million vaccine doses have been delivered to UK citizens, with 46.3 million people fully vaccinated, equating to just under 69 percent of the population.
10.1 million Britons have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the outbreak of the pandemic, with 145,000 people sadly succumbing to the virus.
Globally, 261 million people have been infected, with 5.19 million deaths.
54 percent of the world population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
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