Still unclear if vaccines need tweaking for Omicron - EU drug regulator

'There is no answer whether we will need to adapt vaccines,' European Medicines Agency's (EMA) executive director Emer Cook said on Tuesday.

Colorized scanning electron micrograph of an apoptotic cell (purple) infected with SARS-COV-2 virus particles (yellow), also known as novel coronavirus, isolated from a patient sample. (photo credit: NIH/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)
Colorized scanning electron micrograph of an apoptotic cell (purple) infected with SARS-COV-2 virus particles (yellow), also known as novel coronavirus, isolated from a patient sample.
(photo credit: NIH/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)

The European Union's drug regulator is prepared for the possibility that COVID-19 vaccines may be tweaked to fight the new Omicron variant although there is no evidence yet that it will be necessary, the agency's chief said on Tuesday.

"There is no answer whether we will need to adapt vaccines," European Medicines Agency's (EMA) executive director Emer Cook said in a media briefing.

The agency needs more data on vaccine efficacy, the variant's transmissibility and the severity of the disease it causes, she said.

The exterior of EMA, European Medicines Agency is seen in Amsterdam, Netherlands, December 18, 2020. (credit: REUTERS/PIROSCHKA VAN DE WOUW/FILE PHOTO)The exterior of EMA, European Medicines Agency is seen in Amsterdam, Netherlands, December 18, 2020. (credit: REUTERS/PIROSCHKA VAN DE WOUW/FILE PHOTO)

Cook said she did not think the world would still be in a pandemic a year ago when the agency gave the regulatory green light for the vaccine developed by Pfizer-BioNTech, the first in the region.

The European Union has the capacity to make 300 million doses of vaccines per month as drugmakers have ramped up output to meet the growing demand for its 450 million residents, she said.