Omicron COVID-19 variant a wake-up call for vaccine makers, experts warn – GLOBAL

December 8, 2021

Arrival of the highly-mutated Omicron variant is a wake-up call to develop vaccines less susceptible to the rapid changes of the coronavirus, leading virologists and immunologists told Reuters.

Most first-generation COVID-19 vaccines target the spike protein on the outer surface of the SARS-CoV-2 virus used to infect human cells. Omicron has prompted alarm among scientists because it has far more mutations than earlier variants, including more than 30 on its spike.

Research to determine the extent to which Omicron evades immunity from existing vaccines or prior infection is underway. New data on the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine show some degree of reduced protection with the two-shot regimen.

Even if current shots remain effective for now, the dramatic evolution of the virus highlights the need for vaccines targeting parts of the virus less prone to mutate.

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