MOSCOW, November 29. /TASS/. It will take no more than ten days to make a vaccine against the new SARS-CoV-2 variant, Omicron, Alexander Gintsburg, director of the Gamaleya National Research Center for Epidemiology and Microbiology, the Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine developer, said on Monday.
"Experimental work on a new vaccine against the Omicron strain will take not more than ten days. The rest is about regulation documentation, i.e. registration procedures and proof of the vaccine’s safety," he said in an interview with the Rossiya-24 television channel.
According to Gintsburg, the process of the new vaccine’s registration with the Russian health ministry may take up to 1.5 months. "This process typically takes from two to two and a half months. But in an emergency situation like today, the health ministry will speed up the regulation procedures and I think some 45-50 days will be enough," he said.
On November 26, the World Health Organization (WHO) designated B.1.1.529 as a "Variant of Concern" and assigned it the Greek letter Omicron. It also said that the new variant has "a large number of mutations, some of which are concerning."
According to experts, several mutations in the virus’ S-protein are potentially capable of hampering the neutralization of the pathogen by antibodies and hence play down the efficacy of the current vaccines. The new variant potentially may also be more transmittable than other variants. As a preventive measure, several countries have suspended air service with South Africa and other countries in the south of Africa.