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Head of Pfizer expects Omicron vaccine to be ready in March

Pfizer expects a Covid-19 vaccine targeting the Omicron variant to be ready in March, the company’s chief said Monday.

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla told CNBC that Pfizer is already manufacturing doses due to strong interest from governments as authorities grapple with huge Covid-19 infection counts, including a large number of “breakthrough” Omicron cases in vaccinated populations.

“This vaccine will be ready in March,” Bourla told the network. “I don’t know if we will need it. I don’t know if it will be used or how.” 

Bourla said the current regimen of two vaccines and a booster has provided “reasonable” protection against serious health effects from Omicron. 

But a vaccine focused directly on the Omicron variant would also protect against infections from a strain that has been shown to be highly contagious, but has also resulted in many mild or asymptomatic cases.

In a separate interview with CNBC on Monday, Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel said the company is developing a booster that could address Omicron and other emerging strains in the fall of 2022.

“We are in discussion with public health leaders around the world to decide what we think is the best strategy for a potential booster for the fall of 2022,” Bancel told the network. 

“We have to be careful to try to stay ahead of the virus and not fall behind.”

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