FILE PHOTO: Empty vials of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 “Comirnaty” vaccine are seen inside a waste package at a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccination center in Madrid, Spain, November 24, 2021. REUTERS / Sergio Perez / File photo
BioNTech SE said on Friday it expects more data on a disturbing new variant of coronavirus detected in South Africa within two weeks to help determine whether its vaccine produced with partner Pfizer Inc should be reworked.
Pfizer and BioNTech said that, if needed, they expect to be able to ship a new vaccine suitable for the emerging variant in about 100 days.
“We understand the concern of the experts and immediately launched investigations into the B.1.1.529 variant,” BioNTech said in a statement when asked to comment.
“We expect more data from the lab tests in two weeks at the latest. This data will provide more information on whether B.1.1.529 could be an escape variant that may require adjustment of our vaccine if the variant spreads globally, ”he added.
Moderna Inc said in a statement that it is working to advance a suitable booster candidate for the new variant and has also tested a higher dose of its existing booster and is studying other booster candidates designed to fit. protect against several variants.
“A booster dose of an approved vaccine represents the only strategy currently available to boost declining immunity,” Moderna said in the statement.
Escape variants are those that evade the targeted immune response elicited by vaccination. Pfizer and BioNTech would be able to redesign their plan within six weeks and ship the initial batches within 100 days, BioNTech added.
BioNTech ADRs gained 14.2% to close at $ 348 on Friday and Pfizer shares rose 6.1% to close at $ 54. Moderna gained 20.6% to close at $ 329.63.
Global authorities reacted with concern to the new variant on Friday, with the EU and Britain among those tightening border controls as scientists inquired whether the mutation was resistant to the vaccine.
Pfizer and BioNTech have already created versions of their established mRNA-based vaccine – based on the original virus found in the Chinese city of Wuhan – to target the so-called Alpha and Delta variants, with clinical trials underway.
These efforts are not aimed at producing commercial products; exercise is done to establish a routine with regulators that will help speed up any future vaccine relaunch.
Evercore ISI analysts said data from Qatar on another recent variant showed a high level of initial efficacy of current vaccines that worsened significantly four months after dosing.
Johnson and Johnson said they are also closely monitoring emerging strains of COVID-19 and testing the effectiveness of its shot against the new variant.