BioNTech starts work on Omicron-specific vaccine

Nurse Gavriil Hadjioannou holds a vial of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at the health centre of Karyes, the administrative centre of the all-male Orthodox monastic community of Mount Athos, Greece, November 16, 2021. REUTERS/Alexandros Avramidis

FRANKFURT, Nov 29 (Reuters) - BioNTech SE (22UAy.DE) said on Monday it had started work on a vaccine tailored to Omicron, the worrying new coronavirus variant detected in South Africa, though it was not yet clear if it would have to rework its established COVID-19 shot.

The development of an adapted vaccine is part of the company's standard procedure for new variants, BioNTech, which makes vaccines together with Pfizer (PFE.N), said in a statement.

"The first steps of developing a potential new vaccine overlap with the research necessary in order to evaluate whether a new shot will be needed," it added.

The Omicron variant carries a very high global risk of surges, the WHO warned on Monday as more countries reported cases, prompting border closures. read more

BioNTech had said on Friday it expects more lab data over the next two weeks to help determine if there is need for an Omicron-specific vaccine. Rival Moderna (MRNA.O) has said it was working on a redesign of its COVID-19 vaccine for future booster shots. read more

Reporting by Ludwig Burger; Editing by Zuzanna Szymanska

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