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Omicron COVID-19 variant: Pfizer, BioNTech say vaccine could be reworked in 100 days to counter strain
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Pfizer and BioNTech said Friday that a COVID-19 vaccine could be tweaked and produced within 100 days to counter a "vaccine-escape" variant.
The World Health Organization identified the B.1.1.529 strain found in southern Africa as a highly transmissible "variant of concern." The WHO labeled the strain with the Greek letter omicron.
In an emailed statement to FOX Business, Pfizer said the vaccine-makers are "remaining vigilant" and "constantly conducting surveillance efforts focused on monitoring for emerging variants that potentially escape protection from our vaccine."
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"As always, we will continue to follow the science as we examine the best approaches to protecting people against COVID-19," Pfizer wrote. "In the event that vaccine-escape variant emerges, Pfizer and BioNTech expect to be able to develop and produce a tailor-made vaccine against that variant in approximately 100 days, subject to regulatory approval."
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Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla has previously pledged the companies could develop a new vaccine within the same timeframe.
"So far, data saw that none of the existing variant strains has escaped the protection provided by our vaccine. I repeat: none. Not one," he said at the White House in June. "Still, we have built a process to develop, within 100 days, a new vaccine if needed. God forbid."
In a separate statement to FOX Business, a spokesperson said that BioNTech has immediately initiated investigations on the variant.