The new variant named after a Greek letter still poses many questions and research is needed to determine how infectious and severe the new outbreak may be. One of the biggest questions is revolving around vaccine efficacy. Here’s your latest look into what the jab manufacturers are saying.
The new Covid variant, believed to have originated in southern Africa, has been spreading steadily across the UK.
The total number of infected people is set to be 22 at the moment.
There’s still much unknown about the new variant called Omicron, including the exact symptoms and vaccine efficacy.
However, the Pfizer jab manufacturer BioNTech has shared its jab is likely to offer strong protection against any severe disease from the new variant, according to the company’s Chief executive Ugur Sahin.
Mr Sahin said: “To my mind there’s no reason to be particularly worried.
“The only thing that worries me at the moment is the fact that there are people that have not been vaccinated at all.”
BioNTech further urged people not to “freak out”.
He added: “We think it’s likely that people will have substantial protection against severe disease caused by Omicron.”
He explained severe diseases are such that require hospital treatment or intensive care.
However, scientific data backing the vaccine efficacy against Omicron are still needed.
The BioNTech views are similar to the other commonly used jab – AstraZeneca.
The jab brought by Oxford University scientists took a similar stance, saying there’s “no evidence” that the vaccine won’t be effective against Omicron.
The company added they can quickly develop an updated version of AstraZeneca for further protection if necessary.
The company said in a statement: “Despite the appearance of new variants over the past year, vaccines have continued to provide very high levels of protection against severe disease and there is no evidence so far that Omicron is any different.
“However, we have the necessary tools and processes in place for rapid development of an updated COVID-19 vaccine if it should be necessary.”
But the confidence of these two vaccine manufacturers contrasts with their competitor – Moderna.
The chief executive of Moderna Stéphane Bancel has shared that existing vaccines might be less effective against Omicron than they have been against the other strains including Delta.
Mr Bancel explained it would take around two weeks to get data on how the existing vaccines are performing against the new coronavirus variant and whether it can cause severe disease.
Mr Bancel told the Financial Times: “There is no world, I think, where [the effectiveness] is at the same level … we had with Delta.”
Moderna added that it would take several months for them to do any necessary tweaks to their jab.
Nothing is yet certain around the vaccine efficacy as there’s currently no research due to the novelty of the variant.