Will Covishield work against Omicron? It will be clear in 2-3 weeks, says Serum Institute’s Poonawalla

WION Web Team
New Delhi Published: Nov 30, 2021, 06:36 PM(IST)

 A medic sorts the vials of Covid-19 vaccine at a government vaccination centre in Bengaluru on Tuesday Photograph:( PTI )

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Chief of Serum Institute of India Adar Poonawalla also said that they would soon be launching a new vaccine for kids who are above two years old

In two to three weeks, it will be clear how effective Covishield vaccine is against COVID-19 variant Omicron, Adar Poonawalla, the chief of Serum Institute of India which manufactures the Indian version of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, told a news channel on Monday.

In an interview to NDTV, Poonawala said that Omicron-specific booster shots are possible and added that the focus of the government must remain to get everyone double vaccinated.

“The tests are on for Omicron, and we should have the results in a couple of weeks. The message for all - and a priority - is for everyone to get the 2 doses of the vaccine. That is the first step to stay protected. It is only after that that one can enhance that safety with boosters over the next year,” Poonawalla said.

"The Lancet has reported that Covishield's efficacy is very high and significantly reduces chances of hospitalisation and possibility of death... It is not necessary that the efficacy of Covishield would drop with time," he added, referring to the new study published in the peer-reviewed journal.

The drugmaker also said that they would soon be launching a new vaccine for kids who are above two years old.

When asked whether Covishield will be rolled out for kids, he said, “No. Our approach for vaccinating children will be with CovoVax - the new vaccine awaiting licencing in India and should be done soon. Our approach is to vaccinate children right down to the age of 2 years old with CovoVax.”

Also read | Covid: Omicron variant causing mild disease, says South African Medical Association, slams hype 

Poonawalla said the CovoVax will be available for children in the next 6 months.

The new variant, Omercon, has forced several nations to roll out a third dose or a booster shot to protect against the deadly virus.

Studies are currently underway to determine how vaccines are effective against the new strain.

Also read | Moderna says current vaccines not effective against the Omicron variant

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla has said they have already started working on a version of its COVID-19 vaccine specifically targeting the new Omicron variant in case the current inoculation is not effective against the latest strain.

While Moderna Inc has said it was developing a booster shot against the new variant.

Another drugmaker Johnson & Johnson announced on Monday that it is “pursuing an Omicron-specific variant vaccine and will progress it as needed.”

(With inputs from agencies)

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