A Russia Today report elaborated on the deal, saying that Washington is set to purchase additional COVID-19 vaccine doses from vaccine maker Pfizer tailored against omicron. The sale, amounting to more than $3 billion, could also include a new drug designed to protect against the more infectious yet milder strain, it added.
Alongside its German partner BioNTech, the New York-based drug giant announced the deal on June 29. The two firms said they would ship an initial 105 million doses amounting to $3.2 billion. The contract, they added, also had an option for an additional 195 million doses should the federal government invoke it.
BioNTech Chief Business and Chief Commercial Officer Sean Marrett said the agreement "will provide additional doses for U.S. residents and help cope with the next COVID-19 wave." She added: "Pending regulatory authorization, it will also include an omicron-adapted vaccine, which we believe is important to address the rapidly spreading variant."
In a press release, Pfizer elaborated on the omicron-specific vaccine and mentioned that it had actually been developing two vaccine candidates. Currently under review by federal regulators, the two candidates target the BA1 and BA4/BA5 omicron sub-variants.
The two companies mentioned that they had provided "pivotal data" on the safety and tolerability of the two vaccine candidates to the Food and Drug Administration. They also said that doses of both candidates have been manufactured in order to "begin deliveries rapidly upon authorization."
"We believe we have two very strong omicron-adapted candidates that elicit a substantially higher immune response than we’ve seen to date," said Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla. He added that his company looks forward to "discussing these data with the scientific community and health authorities" with a view to introducing "an omicron-adapted booster as soon as possible if authorized by regulators."
"Omicron has newly evolving sub-lineages that … exhibit a trend of increasing potential for immune escape. We will therefore remain vigilant and are prepared to rapidly adapt our omicron-adapted vaccine candidates to emerging sub-lineages if epidemiological and laboratory data suggest," said BioNTech CEO Ugur Sahin. (Related: Del Bigtree: Rise in COVID cases from new omicron subvariants is something to watch out for.)
However, Belgian virologist Dr. Geert Vanden Bossche warned that the COVID-19 vaccines – such as the one by Pfizer – will only make people susceptible to a deadlier strain. This variant will mainly target nations with high vaccination rates, he added.
"In the next two months, I expect an explosion [of this deadlier variant] in one of these highly vaccinated countries. And then, it will go very, very fast," he told Australian independent journalist Maria Zeee in a May 18 interview.
"You cannot play with an equilibrium that has been shaped over millions of years of evolution. Now all of a sudden, we throw a bombshell on this [natural immunity with] the mass vaccination – [as if] humankind is going to reshape this whole thing. Now, the virus is going to backfire in a way that is going to be very, very serious and very substantial."
Instead of injecting people with the vaccines, Vanden Bossche emphasized antiviral medications such as hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin.
"My heart goes out to all these people who have been highly vaccinated. [But] the magic word for these people is antivirals. It's the only thing they can do – antivirals and, therefore, early treatments."
"Instead of having these stupid mass vaccination campaigns, we would need to have a mass antiviral chemoprophylaxis campaign in highly vaccinated countries to dramatically diminish the infection rate in the population – because that is what herd immunity naturally and normally does."
Visit VaccineWars.com for more stories about vaccines targeting the omicron strain.
Watch Dr. Geert Vanden Bossche warning people not to take any vaccines against the omicron strain below.
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