Shares of vaccine company Moderna rose in early trading, up more than 11%, after the company’s bombshell Omicron announcement.
The company’s Chief Medical Officer Paul Burton said that the company could make a new Omicron vaccine by early 2022.
In an interview with BBC, Burton said that the company mobilized hundreds of staff on Thanksgiving day as news of the Omicron COVID variant broke.
The Omicron variant may reportedly evade the vaccine, due to its different spike protein profile. The new variant has over 30 mutations on its spike proteins, which are key for immunization. As such, the WHO claims that the variant poses a “very high” global risk.
Burton himself agreed, stating that there is a potential for the virus to be resistant to existing vaccines, including Moderna’s.
"If we have to make a brand new vaccine, that's going to be early 2022" in terms of when it's available, says Paul Burton, Chief Medical Officer of Moderna
— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) November 28, 2021
The U.S.-based company is currently assessing whether it will need to make a new vaccine for the Omicron variant.
“We should know about the ability of the current vaccine to provide protection in the next couple of weeks,” Burton said.
However, he said that Moderna’s mRNA vaccines have an advantage over those of other companies.
“The remarkable thing about mRNA vaccines, the Moderna platform, is that we can move very fast,” the CMO of Moderna added.
In that case, he claimed, Moderna could roll a new, reformulated vaccine soon. “If we have to make a brand new vaccine, I think that’s going to be early 2022 before that’s really going to be available in large quantities.”
Meanwhile, the CEO of the company Stephane Banel said Monday in an interview with CNBC, that it will take several months to develop and ship a vaccine that specifically targets omicron. In the meantime, a higher dose of the company’s 100-microgram dose of the company’s booster shot that could be made right away.
Moderna (MRNA) shares are up 11% in early Monday trading after the interview.