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Can omicron-specific vaccines arrive fast enough to make a difference?

Vaccine makers are already adapting vaccines to fight the omicron coronavirus variant, but it will probably already have swept the world by the time these arrive

Health | Analysis 30 November 2021

A health worker holds a vial of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine

A health worker holds a vial of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine

CHAMILA KARUNARATHNE/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Is omicron better at evading existing vaccines than older coronavirus variants? Vaccine makers are racing to produce omicron-specific versions, just in case. But if omicron is as transmissible as some fear, it could rapidly sweep around the world, triggering another wave of covid-19 cases before people can be protected with an updated vaccine.

mRNA vaccines can be updated more quickly than other types of vaccine, and the two main manufacturers of the covid-19 mRNA vaccines, Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech, say they …