Pharmaceutical giants are racing to adapt their existing COVID-19 vaccines or develop new ones to work against the omicron variant, which was identified in South Africa on November 24th.
BioNTech (BNTX) - Get BioNTech SE Report, which partnered with Pfizer (PFE) - Get Pfizer Inc. Report on one of three COVID-19 vaccines currently approved for use in the U.S., is working to adapt its vaccine to address the omicron variant, according to Biopharmadive. The company is targeting development in six weeks with availability for use within 100 days, the report said.
Moderna (MRNA) - Get Moderna, Inc. Report and Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) - Get Johnson & Johnson Report, which make the two other U.S.-approved vaccines, are working on omicron-specific versions, according to the report.
On November 26th, the World Health Organization officially classified omicron as a "variant of concern.," sparking border closures and a sharp selloff in U.S. stocks.
On Monday, President Joe Biden called omicron a “a cause for concern, not a cause for panic," according to the New York Times, while outlining a strategy for combating the ongoing coronavirus outbreak with increased vaccinations, boosters and testing. U.S. shares rebounded sharply on Monday.
At the moment, health officials and experts say there is no conclusive evidence that omicron spreads quicker or is more harmful than previous variants. A key South African researcher said in an interview that symptoms appear to be milder, though that observation was based on younger patients.
Shares of Moderna and BioNTech rose Monday, while Pfizer and Novavax both fell. Johnson & Johnson edged higher.
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