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  • Conversation: Oxford and AstraZeneca aim to produce Omicron-targeted version of vaccine

    • December 23, 2021 12:20 PM GMT
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      Oxford and AstraZeneca aim to produce Omicron-targeted version of vaccine

      Calls for booster vaccinations in order to combat the rising cases brought about by winter and the recent Omicron variant have intensified, in the midst of record case rates.
      Oxford and AstraZeneca have announced that they have taken ‘preliminary steps’ to produce an updated coronavirus vaccine specifically targeting the Omicron variant. Sandy Douglas, a research group leader at Oxford, shared with the Financial Times (FT) that an updated vaccine could be used to “respond to any new variant more rapidly”.
      “Adenovirus-based vaccines (such as that made by Oxford AstraZeneca) could in principle be used to respond to any new variant more rapidly than some may previously have realised,” Douglas told FT. These vaccines, Douglas shared, have “really important advantages, especially where need and logistical challenges are greatest”.
      A lab-study last week found that AstraZeneca's antibody cocktail Evusheld retained neutralising activity against the Omicron variant.
      Vaccine makers Pfizer BioNTech and Moderna have also previously stated that they were working on Omicron-specific COVID-19 vaccines. Moderna have shared hopes to start clinical trials early next year. Global health authorities, such as European Medicines Agency head, Emer Cooke, have warned that it is currently unknown whether a vaccine for the recently discovered strain will be needed. Cooke has also warned that it could remain unknown for some time whether the Omicron variant will necessitate new vaccine formulations.
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