AstraZeneca, Oxford aim to produce Omicron-targeted vaccine

Reuters

Posted at Dec 22 2021 11:08 AM | Updated as of Dec 22 2021 11:19 AM

A health worker prepares a dose of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, at the Penda health center in Nairobi, Kenya, December 9, 2021. Picture taken December 9, 2021. Baz Ratner, Reuters
A health worker prepares a dose of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, at the Penda health center in Nairobi, Kenya, December 9, 2021. Picture taken December 9, 2021. Baz Ratner, Reuters

AstraZeneca Plc said on Tuesday it is working with Oxford University to produce a vaccine for the Omicron coronavirus variant, joining other vaccine-makers who are looking to develop the variant-specific vaccine.

"Together with Oxford University, we have taken preliminary steps in producing an Omicron variant vaccine, in case it is needed and will be informed by emerging data," a spokesperson for the company said in a statement.

Oxford did not immediately respond to a request for comment outside business hours.

The Financial Times first reported the news, citing Sandy Douglas, a research group leader at Oxford.

"Adenovirus-based vaccines (such as that made by Oxford/AstraZeneca) could in principle be used to respond to any new variant more rapidly than some may previously have realized," Douglas told FT.

A lab-study last week found that AstraZeneca's antibody cocktail Evusheld retained neutralizing activity against the Omicron variant.

Vaccine makers Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna also previously said they were working on Omicron- specific COVID-19 vaccines. Moderna said hopes to start clinical trials early next year. 

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