Pharmaniaga Berhad (Pharmaniaga) says that the new, Omicron (B.1.1.529) Covid-19 variant, spreads more quickly than other forms of Covid-19 virus.
Omicron was designated as a variant of concern (VoC) by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on November 26. It was identified in South Africa and has so far been detected in Europe and Asia.
“Our vaccine scientists are in constant communication with Sinovac scientists on the latest Omicron variant which WHO has now designated as a SARS-CoV-2 VoC and has confirmed that this variant will spread more quickly than other forms of Covid-19 virus,” Pharmaniaga Group MD Datuk Zulkarnain Md Eusope said in a statement today.
The pharmaceutical company assures that Sinovac Biotech Ltd (Sinovac) is closely monitoring clinical study progress related to the Omicron variant and is actively collecting and obtaining information as well as samples related to the new variants through its global partner network.
“We are following closely with Sinovac which is carrying out evaluations to understand the in-depth impact of the Omicron variant on the existing SARS-CoV-2 inactivated vaccine. They often update us on the on-going research that will determine whether it is necessary to develop a new vaccine against the Omicron variant,” he added.
“Sinovac has the expertise and capabilities, as well as the strong production and quality control systems to produce sufficient vaccines, as required. The Company has previously conducted the development of inactivated vaccines against Gamma and Delta variants.
“If necessary, it will be able to rapidly advance that development and launch mass- production of new vaccines to meet the vaccine demand,” he added.
Pharmaniaga is a partner to Sinovac’s global phase III Covid-19 vaccine clinical trial for children aged 3 to 11 years which is currently being conducted in Malaysia.
Sinovac has published a series of data that Sinovac recipients who received the same vaccine for booster shot would lead to a strong boost in immune response, with geometric mean titres (GMTs) increasing to approximately 140 and immense increase in neutralising antibodies, up to 20 times after the second dose.
“We know that it is only a matter of time before the new variant will spread to Malaysia, so before that happens, let’s protect ourselves and boost our antibody levels by getting Sinovac booster dose,” said Zulkarnain, adding that Pharmaniaga has started to supply Sinovac Covid-19 booster dose at designated private hospitals and clinics, following the recent approval by Drug Control Authority (DCA). –TMR