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COVID-19: Moderna says company could have omicron booster ready in March

Moderna Inc. could have a booster vaccine against COVID-19 addressed to the omicron variant tested and ready to request authorization in USA in March, said company president Stephen Hoge.

He stated that he believes that booster vaccines that carry genes specifically targeting mutations in the recently discovered omicron variant would be the fastest way to address any anticipated reduction in vaccine efficacy. “We have already started that program,” he said.

The company is also working on a multivalent vaccine that would include up to four different variants of the coronavirus, including omicron. That could take several more months, he said.

The United States identified its first case of COVID-19 caused by the omicron variant in California, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.

Omicron, called a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization (WHO), is being studied to see if it is more contagious or causes more serious disease than other variants, and if it can elude the protection of current vaccines.

Taking into account previous guidance from the US Food and Drug Administration, which has required clinical trials to be carried out in the middle phase, Hoge said the process could take three to four months.

“The omicron-specific boosters, realistically, will not occur before March and maybe more in the second quarter,” Hoge said, unless the FDA changes its guidance on the data required for authorization.

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