AstraZeneca testing vaccine antibodies against omicron strain

AstraZeneca is testing its long-acting antibody combination AZD7442 against omicron, the new coronavirus variant, AstraZeneca told SİA.

The company is hopeful AZD7442 will retain efficacy since it comprises two potent antibodies with different and complementary activities against the virus.

“As with any new emerging variants, we are looking into B.1.1.529 to understand more about it and the impact on the vaccine. AstraZeneca has developed, in close collaboration with Oxford University, a vaccine platform that enables us to respond quickly to new variants that may emerge,” said the company, adding that AstraZeneca is also already conducting research in locations where the variant has been identified, namely in Botswana and Eswatini, that will enable the company to collect real world data of Vaxzevria against this new virus variant.

Vaxzevria has been shown to be effective against all SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern and COVID-19 in both clinical trials in up to 60,000 participants and from real world evidence in hundreds of thousands of people that have been vaccinated in over 170 countries, the company noted.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has designated the B.1.1.529 strain of coronavirus found in southern Africa with the Greek letter omicron. This variant has a large number of mutations, some of which are of concern to WHO. Several changes at once in the spike protein of the virus can potentially make it difficult to neutralize the pathogen with antibodies, which may affect the effectiveness of vaccines. In addition, the omicron strain has the potential to spread faster than others.

The omicron strain has already been found in many countries – the UK, the Netherlands, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Italy and others.

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