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In the latest episode of “what has COVID-19 become?”, we have Omicron, the new COVID-19 variant of concern that seems to be dominating the world’s headlines now.

One of the issues of this new strain is that it seems to be too strong and the current vaccines may not work against it.

But hold your horses, for all these are merely speculations.

It’ll Take 2 Weeks to Determine if Current Vaccines Work Against Omicron Variant

With a new variant popping up does that mean we need another vaccine? What about the current vaccines and their booster shots: do they not work anymore?

Well, the answer to all these concerning questions is not clear yet for: This new variant has only been spreading for a couple of weeks so not enough data is gathered yet

However, this situation is a “for now” thing, as after two weeks, BioNTech, the company that developed the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine that many Singaporeans have taken, will have enough data to determine if the current vaccine is enough.

But of course, what’ll happen if the data turns out to be bad news?

Updated Vaccine

If the current vaccine is not sufficient, BioNTech said they could produce and ship an updated version of its vaccine within 100 days. That is what we call efficient.

The updated vaccine will be tweaked to match more closely to the new variant.

Currently, Moderna is also testing three of its existing COVID-19 booster against the Omicron variant. They will develop a new variant-specific booster against it.

BioNTech/Pfizer and AstraZeneca are already running clinical trials on these updated vaccines and discussing with regulators what data would be needed for these vaccines’ approval.

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“Escape Variant”

Although the human immune system is able to make a variety of antibodies that can help target several different places on the spike, the Omicron variant is different.

Unlike the other variants where only some parts are different, the Omicron variant could turn out to be an “escape variant” where nearly all the sites the antibodies target are different.

One of the main concerns about the “escape variant” is that instead of the previous COVID-19 variants that get cleared away in a matter of days, this variant may have the possibility of lingering in your body for months.

After all, as Theodora Hatziioannou, a virologist at Rockefeller University in New York, said, “This virus has seen a lot of antibodies.”

However, that does not mean you should stop taking the current vaccine if you have not taken them. The vaccines are still expected to provide some protection against Omicron for they stimulate antibodies and immune cells which can attack the infected cells.

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Featured Image: Mahsun YILDIZ / Shutterstock.com

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