American pharmaceutical firm Moderna, one of the biggest makers of vaccines against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), said on Sunday that it could reformulate the vaccine against the Omicron variant of Covid-19 in early 2022.
"We should know about the ability of the current vaccine to provide protection in the next couple of weeks," Paul Burton, the chief medical officer of Moderna said during an appearance on a BBC show.
"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 added.
His comments come as the vaccine maker mobilised hundreds of its staff last Thursday after the Omicron variant made global headlines.
Burton pointed out on Sunday that current vaccines should protect against the variant, adding that all unvaccinated people should take the jab.
"If people are on the fence, and you haven't been vaccinated, get vaccinated," he said. This is a dangerous-looking virus, but I think we have many tools in our armamentarium now to fight it," Moderna's top executive said during his interaction with the BBC.
The Omicron variant, first detected in southern Africa, has a higher number of mutations and has been spreading very quickly. The variant has prompted several countries to shut down their borders and renew Covid-19 restrictions.
Health experts in South Africa, including the doctor who first sounded the alarm about Omicron, have said that the symptoms linked to the variant have been mild till now.
However, the World Health Organization (WHO), has urged caution and said that the initial cases of the variant symptoms, adding, younger patients tend to have milder symptoms.
The WHO said that it will take days to several weeks to understand the level of severity of the variant. "There is currently no information to suggest that symptoms associated with omicron are different from those from other variants," the WHO added.