Coronavirus updates: Vaccine manufacturers prepare in case of need for adjustments due to the omicron variant

NEW YORK (WABC) – Pfizer and BioNTech say that if a variant evading the vaccine emerges, they would be ready to produce a tailor-made shot against the new variant within about 100 days.

The companies released a statement to ABC News in response to growing concerns about the omicron variant.

Meanwhile, Moderna says it has mobilized hundreds of employees since Thanksgiving Day and expects to know the ability of the current vaccine to provide protection against the new variant “in the next few weeks.”

“If we are to make a brand new vaccine, I think it will be early in 2022 before it will really be available in large quantities,” Modernas Chief Medical Officer Paul Burton told the BBC.

All newly developed vaccines will be subject to regulatory approval.

It should also be emphasized that companies are preparing for the scenario, just in case.

The Omicron variant was only recently discovered, and although the scientific community suspects that it could potentially evade current vaccines due to its mutations, further research is needed.

Here are several of today’s COVID-19 headlines:

Canada confirms the first 2 cases of omicron variant in Ontario

Canadian officials confirmed Sunday that two cases of the omicron variant have been found in Ontario. “Today, the province of Ontario has confirmed two cases of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 in Ottawa, both of which were reported in people who recently traveled from Nigeria. Ottawa Public Health performs case and contact management and patients are in isolation,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Prime Minister and Health Minister and Dr. Kieran Moore, Chief Medical Officer of Health in a statement.

Hochul provides booster doses to all NY nursing homes
On Sunday, New York Governor Kathy Hochul ordered that all nursing homes and adult care facilities make booster doses available to all of their residents.

Fauci says the omicron variant ‘inevitably’ arrives in the US
While the new omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus has not yet been discovered in the United States, it will “inevitably” arrive, said Dr. Anthony Fauci Sunday. “We all know that once you have a virus that has already gone to multiple countries, it will inevitably be here,” Fauci told ABC’s This Week anchor George Stephanopoulos. “The question is, will we be prepared for it?” Fauci’s comments came a day before the United States plans to impose a travel ban on most travelers from eight South African countries.

The Netherlands confirms 13 cases of omicron variant; Australia reports 2
The Netherlands on Sunday confirmed 13 cases of the new omicron variant of coronavirus, and Australia found two as the countries with half the world apart became the latest to discover it in travelers arriving from southern Africa. A number of borders imposed by nations around the world as they struggle to curb the spread of the variant also grew, and Israel decided on Sunday to prevent foreign nationals from accessing the hardest move to date.

Vaccine inequality, hesitation made omicron more likely: Scientists
Many of the world’s richest countries have spent the past year hoarding coronavirus vaccines, buying up enough doses to vaccinate their populations several times and consistently failing to deliver on their promises to share doses with developing countries. The World Health Organization said the approach was “self-destructive” and “immoral”. It might start to bite. A new and potentially more transmissible variant of the virus probably emerged from a region with low vaccination rates.

Data show increase in deaths in nursing homes in Connecticut
A dozen nursing home residents have died from COVID-19 in Connecticut over the past two weeks, the largest number since mid-August, new data released Friday showed. There were 125 positive cases of COVID-19 among residents between Nov. 10 and Nov. 23, with 12 deaths, according to data from the state Department of Health. 67 employees also tested positive during the same period. Five of those deaths occurred at the Candlewood Valley Health and Rehabilitation Center in New Milford, which reported 36 positive cases among its 105 residents and eight positive cases among its staff. The last time more than a dozen nursing deaths were reported during a two-week period was between August 18 and August 31. At that time, there were 16 deaths due to COVID-19 among residents of nursing homes, 111 positive cases among residents and 94 cases among staff.

New York Islanders matches postponed due to possible COVID incidents
The NHL announced Saturday that all New York Islanders games have been postponed until at least Tuesday, November 30th. They say the decision is the result of “an additional New York Islanders player who entered the COVID protocol this morning, and up to eight players potentially unavailable to play due to the COVID protocol.”

What is omicron? What you need to know about the new COVID variant
What is this new COVID-19 variant? And what is known and not known about omicron? Researchers know that omicron is genetically distinct from previous variants including beta and delta variants, but they do not know whether these genetic changes make it more transmissible or dangerous. So far, there is no evidence that the variant causes more serious illness.

2 cases of omicron variant identified in the UK
On Saturday, The UK confirmed two related cases of the new omicron variant while Germany indicated that it has a probable case. Dutch authorities are also checking for the new variant, after 61 passengers on two flights from South Africa were tested positive for COVID-19. British Health Secretary Sajid Javid said two people were tested positive with the omicron variant in the south-east town of Chelmsford and in central Nottinghamshire. He said the cases were linked and related to travel from southern Africa.
Clinic held for LI children participating in wax trials
On Long Island today, a special COVID-19 vaccine clinic was held for young participants in a clinical trial in Suffolk County. Children ages 5 to 11 who received placebo during a clinical trial at Stony Brook Medicine received their second Pfizer shot, meaning they will soon be fully vaccinated. The children who participated all played a role in helping to ensure the effectiveness and safety of the vaccine. Friday’s clinic was held at Stony Brook Advanced Specialty Care in Commack.

Long Island hospital reopens after lack of nursing staff forces closure
The emergency department at a hospital in Nassau County has reopened after temporarily closed due to lack of nursing staff. The deficiency was the result of New York’s vaccine mandate. Officials at Mount Sinai South Nassau said Monday that all other options had been exhausted before the decision was made to close the emergency room. Patients in need of emergency care were directed to the hospital’s main campus in Oceanside.

Connecticut to host booster clinics in nursing homes
Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont has announced that the state is stepping up efforts to get elderly residents vaccinated with a COVID-19 booster shot by bringing special clinics to nursing homes. The move comes as the state has seen its highest infection rates since early September. Lamont urges anyone eligible to get a booster shot. While 84% of residents 18 years and older are considered fully vaccinated, only 18% have received a booster shot.
De Blasio calls on Governor Hochul to introduce a wax mandate for MTA workers
Mayor Bill de Blasio is urging New York Governor Kathy Hochul to implement a vaccination requirement for MTA workers.

“Here’s an opportunity to do something that will really help New York City,” the mayor said Tuesday morning as he spoke to Hochul in public during his daily briefing at City Hall. “Put a mandate in place for MTA staff. It’s time to do it.”
Right now, unvaccinated MTA workers can undergo regular tests. Tony Utano, president of the Transport Workers Union Local 100, wasted no time in responding.

“The MTA’s unionized workforce and millions of transit riders are grateful this Thanksgiving for Mayor de Blasio not running the metro and bus system – and finally being on his way out the door,” Utano said. “The current system, where transit workers have a choice of being vaccinated or regularly tested, works while we continue to train and encourage members to be shot.”
Erie County initiates mandate for indoor mask
With rising positivity rates, Erie County implemented a mask mandate for all indoor public places from 6 p.m. 06.00 Tuesday. The indoor mesh mandate is phase one of a four-phase plan. Erie County hopes not to have to implement the other phases, which include vaccinations, capacity constraints and shutdowns.
Governor Kathy Hochul praised the Erie County Director for taking strong local action, calling it “an example of the leadership we need to see at the local level to fight this deadly virus.”

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