WASHINGTON, Dec 3 (Reuters) - COVID-19 vaccine makers have
contingency plans to deal with the Omicron variant that include
a combination vaccine against the original version and the
variant as well as a variant-specific booster dose, a top U.S.
health official said on Friday.
The U.S. government is working with Moderna, Pfizer,
and J&J on multiple contingency plans, infectious
disease expert Anthony Fauci told reporters at a White House
"One is to rev up the production of the vaccines that they
already have. The next is to make, for example, a bivalent,
where you have the vaccine against both the ancestral strain and
the new variant, and the other is to make a variant-specific
boost," said Fauci.
"They are now assuming they may have to do that and are
being prepared for that," he added.
Data from a National Institutes of Health study strongly
suggest that existing boosters provide cross protection against
a number of variants, including Omicron, Fauci said.
"Although we haven't proven it yet, there's every reason to
believe that if you get vaccinated and boosted that you would
have at least some degree of cross protection, very likely
against severe disease, even against the Omicron variant."
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is
working with local authorities to investigate suspect cases of
the Omicron variant in states other than those where cases have
already been reported, Director Rochelle Walensky said at the
There have been cases of Omicron detected in about 40
countries, she said, but the Delta variant remains the dominant
strain in the United States.
"I know that the news is focused on Omicron. But we should
remember that 99.9% of cases in the country right now are from
the Delta variant. Delta continues to drive cases across the
country, especially in those who are unvaccinated," she said.
(Reporting by Ahmed Aboulenein and Jeff Mason; Additional
reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Rosalba O'Brien and Dan