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BioNTech CEO says the vaccine is likely to protect against severe COVID from Omicron

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FRANKFURT — BioNTech and Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine are likely to provide strong protection against serious disease from new Omicron virus variants, BioNTech CEO told Reuters.

Over the next two weeks, lab tests will be conducted to analyze the blood of people who have been vaccinated with BioNTech’s Comirnaty vaccine 2-3 times, and the antibodies in that blood will inactivate Omicron and determine if a new vaccine is needed. in progress.

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Wool Shahin, CEO and co-founder of BioNTech, said: He identified a serious illness as requiring hospital or intensive care.

Sahin expects lab tests to show some loss of vaccine protection against mild and moderate disease due to Omicron, but added that it is difficult to predict the extent of that loss.

Biotechnology companies are rapidly working on upgraded versions of their vaccines, of which well over 2 billion doses have been administered, but it is unclear if they are needed.

Sahin said the third vaccination, known as a booster, is likely to provide a layer of protection against all severe Omicron infections compared to the two-shot course alone.

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“In my opinion, there’s no reason to worry. At this point, I’m only concerned about the fact that some people haven’t been vaccinated at all,” Sahin added.

BioNTech’s protected confidence contrasts with the vigilance conveyed by Stephane Bancel, CEO of rival vaccine maker Moderna. He raised the possibility that protection against new coronavirus strains from current vaccines could be significantly reduced.

Antibodies provided by vaccination can have difficulty latching to new viral lines, but another line of immune defense, T cells, remains unchanged in Omicron, Sahin said. He added that it is set to recognize most of the spiked proteins.

Antibodies bind directly to the virus to prevent infection, while long-lasting T cells attack cells that have been hijacked by the virus, preventing virus replication and serious illness.

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Pfizer and BioNTech have already created a version of an established mRNA-based vaccine that targets so-called alpha and delta variants based on the original virus found in China, and clinical trials are ongoing. ..

These efforts are not intended to produce commercial products, but to establish routines with regulatory agencies that will help speed up future vaccine relaunch.

That’s why regulators don’t need to test human volunteers and analyze the immune response to upgrade Omicron-specific vaccines, Sahin said.

“The advantage is that we’ve been practicing this pit stop for months. If we actually change the tires, we can say that we’ve demonstrated this in one and two variations,” Sahin said. ..

He said he still expects it to take about 100 days to bring to market in the first batch of 25-50 million doses, if regulators are happy.

Sahin is not drawn as to whether Omicron will be as dominant as the Delta variant. “But even if there’s no reason to panic in itself,” he said.

EU drug regulators said Tuesday that they could approve vaccines targeting Omicron within three to four months if needed, but said existing injections would continue to provide protection.

(Report by Ludwig Burger and Patricia Weiss; edited by Jan Harvey and Grant McCool)

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BioNTech CEO says the vaccine is likely to protect against severe COVID from Omicron

https://financialpost.com/pmn/business-pmn/biontech-ceo-says-vaccine-likely-to-protect-against-severe-covid-from-omicron-2 BioNTech CEO says the vaccine is likely to protect against severe COVID from Omicron

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