AstraZeneca working with Oxford to produce Omicron vaccinetext_fields
A new targeted vaccine is in the works to combat the spread of the Omicron variant, as pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca joins hands with Oxford University to create a specific vaccine for the highly-mutated variant that is already demonstrating capability to evade current vaccines.
"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. [They have] really important advantages, especially where need and logistical challenges are greatest," said Sandy Douglas, a research group leader at Oxford, to the Financial Times.
The move comes shortly after a Lancet study on Monday showed that two doses of AstraZeneca's vaccine showed waning resistance against the Omicron variant, although a booster dose may up levels of antibodies. AstraZeneca's antibody cocktail Evusheld however did not show diminished efficiency against the virus.
Oxford has already conducted studies on a Beta-targeted vaccine after studies earlier this year showed it had minimal efficacy against milder disease caused by that strain. The results for studies on that drug candidate, known as AZD2816, have not yet been released.
Global vaccine makers are already taking steps to find A vaccine against Omicron as studies have shown that most major vaccine doses like Pfizer and Moderna are not as effective against the Omicron strain as they were against Delta and other variants. This raises the risk of breakthrough infections in those who have already recovered from Covid-19 and those who have been fully vaccinated, scientists say.
Vaccine makers Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna also previously said they were working on Omicron- specific COVID-19 vaccines. Moderna said hopes to start clinical trials early next year.