In India, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has already started research to study the efficacy of Covishield and Covaxin against the new coronavirus variant.
Some of these candidates could be used as boosters or independent vaccines, the latest data compiled by Unicef says. Further, existing vaccines that have been already approved for use globally, including those by Pfizer/ BioNTech, Moderna, Bharat Biotech, Serum Institute of India, Janssen, Sinopharm, Sinovac, Gamaleya, Novavax, AstraZeneca, Anhui ZL, are also being tested to check their efficacy against Omicron.
The timelines of rollout for certain variant-specific vaccines is as early as this month.
Initial results have demonstrated a reduction in the production of neutralising antibodies against Omicron (compared to previously detected strains) for all vaccines tested so far, for most of the companies. It may be noted that most of these are lab-tests, hence real-world data is still awaited.
Omicron was declared a variant of concern by the WHO on November 26 in view of an unprecedented large number of mutations and preliminary evidence suggesting an increased risk of infectivity and capacity for immune escape.
Regarding the pipeline, the Unicef data says three vaccine candidates are under regulatory review and 12 candidates are at Phase III clinical trials.
So far, 30 vaccines have been approved for use for Covid-19 by at least one nation.