(File photo) Ursula von der Leyen was in Latvia when she made this statement Photograph:( Reuters )
European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said that everyone had to 'buy time' for scientists as they tried to understand the nature of the new Covid strain Omicron
European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen on Sunday, said that the world was in "race against time", to understand the new Covid variant. She hinted that if situation required, vaccines would need to be modified to counter the threat of Omicron variant.
"We know we are now in a race against time," von der Leyen said. She was on a visit to Riga, Latvia. She called for the public to take precautions in order to give scientists time to understand the new variant.
"The scientists and manufacturers need two to three weeks to have a full picture about the quality of the mutations of this Omicron variant," she said.
"We need to buy time," she added, urging people to vaccinate, wear masks and practise social distancing.
She said that a contract struck in the summer by the European Commission with BioNTech-Pfizer for 1.8 billion vaccine doses included a clause in case of an "escape variant" -- a strain that can evade vaccine immunity.
A clause in the contract states "that if a variant turns into an escape variant... BioNTech-Pfizer is able to adapt its vaccine within 100 days," she said.
The new, heavily mutated Covid-19 variant has spread across the globe, shutting borders, renewing curbs and sparking fears for the fight against the nearly two-year-old coronavirus pandemic.
(With inputs from agencies)