Vaccine maker Moderna says the new Omicron variant represents a "significant potential risk" to the efficacy of its Covid-19 vaccine as well as immunity reached naturally.
"The recently described Omicron variant includes mutations seen in the Delta variant that are believed to increase transmissibility and mutations seen in the Beta and Delta variants that are believed to promote immune escape," Moderna said Friday in a news release.
"The combination of mutations represents a significant potential risk to accelerate the waning of natural and vaccine-induced immunity," the company said.
The company said it is working rapidly to test the ability of its vaccine to neutralize the new variant and data is expected in the coming weeks.
If the current vaccine and the current booster dose of the vaccine are insufficient against the variant, one possible solution is boosting people with a larger dose, which Moderna said it is testing.
The company is also evaluating two multi-valent booster candidates to see if they provide superior protection against Omicron. Both candidates include some of the viral mutations present in the new variant.
Moderna is also evaluating an Omicron-specific booster candidate.
“We have three lines of defense that we are advancing in parallel,” Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel said in the release. "The mutations in the Omicron variant are concerning and for several days, we have been moving as fast as possible to execute our strategy to address this variant."