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EU could approve jab against new Covid variant in three to four months

The European Union drug regulator said yesterday it could approve vaccines adapted to target the Omicron variant of the coronavirus within three to four months if needed, but that existing shots would continue to provide protection.

Speaking to the European Parliament, European Medicines Agency (EMA) executive director Emer Cooke said it was not known if drugmakers would need to tweak their vaccines to protect against Omicron, but the EMA was preparing for that possibility.

"Were there a need to change the existing vaccines, we could be in a position to have those approved within three to four months," she said.

"Companies adapting their formulations to include the new sequencing... will have to show that the production system works, they will then have to do clinical trials to determine that this actually works in practice."

Moderna had triggered public uneaseby warning that existing vaccines were unlikely to be as effective against Omicron as they have been against the Delta version.

"Even if the new variant becomes more widespread, the vaccines we have will continue to provide protection," Ms Cooke said. - REUTERS

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