Sinovac and Sinopharm have both announced that their vaccine candidates that specifically target the Omicron variant of COVID-19 have been approved for clinical trials in Hong Kong. The candidates from the two companies both use inactivated coronavirus, similar to their current COVID-19 vaccine that is being used in several countries.
The Sinopharm candidates will be tested as boosters in adults who have already received two or three doses, while Sinovac said that it will conduct further studies on its existing vaccine’s protection against emerging variants. Studies have shown that the vaccines from both companies have rapidly waning efficacy.
Meanwhile, other COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers such as Moderna and Pfizer announced that they were working on an Omicron-specific vaccine shortly after the variant was discovered. Pfizer’s candidate was supposed to be ready by March but delayed due to “slower-than expected data gathering”, according to CEO Ugur Sahin.
It is still too early to tell whether an Omicron-targeted vaccine will lead to Sinovac and Sinopharm being accepted by more countries. Some European countries still reject travellers who received either of the China-made shots for their primary series, leading to some Malaysians needing to get two Pfizer boosters in order to travel to countries such as Germany.