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WHO: COVID-19 vaccines should be updated for Omicron

WHO: COVID-19 vaccines should be updated for Omicron

As the WHO’s technical body noted on Tuesday, the current COVID-19 jabs may need to be reworked to increase their effectiveness against Omicron and possible strains of the coronavirus. 

A World Health Organization (WHO) technical group said that vaccine composition required “global coordination”. Commenting on the new strain’s aggressiveness, the group would consider a change in anti-COVID vaccine composition and stressed that shots needed to be more effective in protecting against infection and its variants like Omicron.

“The composition of current COVID-19 vaccines may need to be updated to ensure that COVID-19 vaccines continue to provide WHO-recommended levels of protection against infection and disease by VOCs (variants of concern), including Omicron and future variants,” the technical body, consisted of independent experts, said in a statement.

Taking into account the fast changing of the coronavirus, the COVID-19 vaccines need to elicit immune responses in order to reduce the need for successive booster doses. Otherwise, the idea of vaccination looses its aim. So far, a vaccination strategy based on repeated booster doses of the original vaccine composition is unlikely to be appropriate or sustainable.

As the experts say, an updated drug could be aimed specifically at the dominant variant like Omicron or be a “multivalent vaccine” designed to bust several variants at once.

On Monday, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said a redesigned corona vaccine that specifically targets the Omicron variant would probably be needed, and his corporation could have one ready to launch by March.

Meantime, the pharma giant Moderna is also working on a vaccine candidate tailored to Omicron, but it is unlikely to be available in the next two months. A WHO official had previously said the issue of  and should not be left to manufacturers to decide alone, Reuters said.