(Bloomberg) -- BioNTech SE said modifying its Covid-19 vaccine may be required to boost immunity against the omicron variant, though the current formulation will probably still protect against severe disease from the strain.

“Even if a booster dose of the current vaccine provides a high level of protection against omicron, an adaption might be needed to increase the duration and level of the immunization,” Pfizer Inc.’s vaccine development partner said in a statement Friday. 

The company said it expects that fully vaccinated people may become infected with omicron but will still have a high level of protection against serious forms of Covid. Boosters will probably help prevent severe disease and fend off illness in general, the company added.

Even if the variant is able to elude antibodies in vaccinated people, it will probably still be targeted by other components of the immune system that are activated by shots, BioNTech Chief Executive Officer Ugur Sahin said earlier this week, urging the acceleration of booster shots.

Moderna Inc. executives have said that omicron’s many mutations suggest new vaccines will be needed to prevent infection. The University of Oxford, which developed a vaccine with AstraZeneca Plc, said there’s no evidence existing shots won’t provide some protection against the new strain. 

The results of lab tests are expected within weeks to get a clearer picture. BioNTech’s American depositary receipts rose 2.1% in trading before U.S. markets opened. 


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