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Omicron Covid-19 Variant: How Major Vaccine-Makers Are Reacting

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Omicron, the new Covid-19 variant, has been dominating headlines ever since it first appeared in South Africa this month. Countries including the U.S., the U.K., Canada and others have restricted travel to some South African nations.

Major vaccine-makers have weighed in on how fast they could get the omicron-specific vaccine out.

 Moderna  (MRNA) - Get Moderna, Inc. Report CEO Stéphane Bancel predicts a "material drop" in the current vaccine's effectiveness against the new variant as reported by the Financial Times.

On Sunday, Moderna’s Chief Medical Officer Paul Borton told the BBC that the company could have a new vaccine ready by early 2022.

“If we have to make a brand new vaccine, I think that’s going to be early 2022 before that’s really going to be available in large quantities,” Burton said.

Pfizer  (PFE) - Get Pfizer Inc. Report CEO Albert Bourla told CNBC that Pfizer could have an omicron-specific vaccine in less than 100 days. 

It's not clear whether a new clinical trial would be needed for approval of a new vaccine or if an omicron-focused booster could be authorized based on previous studies.

Related: Moderna Stock Surges As Drugmaker Says It Can Have Omicron Vaccine Ready in Early 2022

Moderna CEO Stephane Bance told CNBC it will take months to develop and ship an omicron-specific vaccine, but a higher 100-microgram booster dose could be available sooner. 

The heavily-mutated omicron variant has emerged in small numbers in Europe, Africa, Australia, Israel and Canada so far. However, the CDC hasn’t announced any cases of this new variant in the U.S. yet.

It's worth noting that the country’s top infectious disease doctor, Anthony Fauci, said that the newer variant will “inevitably” appear in the U.S.

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