BioNTech begins production on omicron-specific vaccine, to publish data

Vaccine maker BioNTech announced Wednesday that it has begun manufacturing its omicron-modified vaccine, according to a news release from the company.

BioNTech said it has “scaled-up” its production of the reformulated vaccine and is developing the omicron-specific Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines at its own financial risk, should the vaccines not be as effective as hoped.

The German-based company said it expects data on the efficacy of the omicron-specific Comirnaty vaccine to be released by April of this year.

“BioNTech intends to continue to evaluate other follow-on COVID-19 vaccines candidates, including combination and bivalent vaccines,” wrote the company in its press release.

In January 2022, the company began trials on people aged 18 to 56 and a separate cohort of people aged 56 and older to evaluate the safety, tolerability, and immunogenicity of the omicron-modified vaccine.

The study is examining 2,150 people across several cohorts, some of which were recently added to BioNTech’s study.

Those include a cohort receiving a combination of an omicron-based vaccine and the original Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, as well as an “exploratory” cohort that is evaluating a bivalent omicron-specific vaccine, according to the company’s press release.

Pfizer announced earlier that it believed its omicron-modified vaccine would be available by March, however, there was a delay by several weeks as the company gathers additional data.

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