Pfizer / BioNTech, Moderna expects soon data on shot protection against new COVID-19 variant

Empty vials of the “Comirnaty” Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine are seen inside a waste package at a coronavirus vaccination center (COVID-19) in Madrid, Spain, November 24, 2021. REUTERS / Sergio Perez / File image

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  • Look for signs that warrant a redesign of the vaccine
  • BioNTech says they understand the experts’ concerns
  • BioNTech, Pfizer in an attempt to establish a relaunch routine
  • Moderna is also studying booster alternatives for a new variant

FRANKFURT, November 26 (Reuters) – BioNTech SE (22UAy.DE) said on Friday that they expect more data on a worrying new coronavirus variant discovered in South Africa within two weeks to help determine if the vaccine was produced with the partner Pfizer Inc (PFE.N)) needs to be redesigned.

Pfizer and BioNTech said that if necessary, they expect to be able to send a new vaccine tailored to the new variant in about 100 days.

“We understand the concerns of experts and have immediately initiated investigations into variant B.1.1.529,” BioNTech said in a statement when asked to comment.

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“We expect more data from the laboratory tests in two weeks at the latest. This data will provide more information on whether B.1.1.529 may be an escape variant that may require an adjustment of our vaccine if the variant spreads globally,” it added.

Moderna Inc (MRNA.O) said in a statement that they are working to promote a booster candidate tailored for the new variant and have also tested a higher dose of their existing booster and to study other booster candidates designed to protect against several varieties.

“A booster dose of an authorized vaccine represents the only available strategy to increase diminished immunity,” Moderna said in the statement.

Escape variants are those that avoid the targeted immune response caused by vaccination. Pfizer and BioNTech will be able to redesign their shot within six weeks and send initial batches within 100 days, BioNTech added.

BioNTech ADRs rose 14.2% to close at $ 348 on Friday, and Pfizer shares rose 6.1% to $ 54. Moderna rose 20.6% to close at $ 329.63.

Global authorities reacted with alarm on Friday to the new variant, with the EU and the UK among those who tightened border controls when researchers tried to find out if the mutation was vaccine-resistant. read more

Pfizer and BioNTech have already created versions of their established mRNA-based vaccine – based on the original virus found in the Chinese city of Wuhan – to target the so-called Alpha and Delta variants, with ongoing clinical trials.

These efforts are not intended to provide commercial products; the exercise is carried out to establish a routine with regulators that will help speed up any future relaunch of the vaccine.

Analysts at Evercore ISI said data from Qatar on another recent variant showed a high level of initial effect of current vaccines, which faded significantly four months after dosing.

Johnson and Johnson (JNJ.N) said they are also closely monitoring new strains of COVID-19 and testing the effectiveness of the shot against the new variety.

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Reporting by Ludwig Burger in Frankfurt Further reporting by Carl O’Donnell in New York Editing by Kirsten Donovan and Matthew Lewis

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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