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Omicron-specific vaccine may help, but expert urges trust in current boosters

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Becka Bowyer

Pfizer and BioNTech have begun a clinical trial for an Omicron-specific Covid-19 vaccine candidate. But Dr. Luis Schang, a virologist at Cornell University, says while it makes sense to develop a specific vaccine against Omicron, we should not lose sight of what is already available.

Luis Schang

Professor of Chemical Virology

Schang says:

“As the omicron variant has become dominant around the world with significant differences in the ‘S’ protein than previous ones, it is appropriate to develop specific vaccines against it. However, we should not lose sight that the already available vaccines still protect against hospitalization and death to a great extent and the current health care crisis is driven mostly by the shear total number of cases.

“It is still unclear whether an omicron-specific vaccine would have a drastic impact on omicron spread. In this context, the recently approved antiviral Paxlovid may have a larger impact than new vaccines on the number of hospitalizations, once the production ramps up, and therefore a larger impact on the needs to contain the spread of the virus as well.”

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