said it should be able to launch a redesigned Covid-19 vaccine that targets the Omicron variant of the virus by March, while Facebook parent
delayed its U.S. office reopening plans and mandated booster shots for those returning to work.
Albert Bourla, chief executive of Pfizer (ticker:
), said Monday the pharmaceutical company and its partner
) already had started manufacturing a version of the vaccine that would target both the fast-spreading Omicron strain as well as the original Covid-19 strain.
“We will have not only data, but I think we will be ready almost to go, file and launch if it’s successful and if we need the demand,” Bourla told a J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference.
Earlier on Monday, the CEO of
) said the pharma company is currently working on an Omicron-specific booster shot, which will be ready by late 2022. Chief Executive Stéphane Bancel told CNBC that Moderna will begin clinical trials on a booster jab specifically tailored to target the Omicron coronavirus variant in early 2022, which could be deployed by the autumn if necessary.
) Facebook, which previously had planned to open its offices for vaccinated employees on Jan. 31, said that the reopening date had been delayed to March 28. All workers returning to the office would have to show proof of their booster jabs, the social media giant said.
“Boosters provide increased protection,” a Meta spokesman told The Wall Street Journal. “Given the evidence of booster effectiveness, we are expanding our vaccination requirement to include boosters.”
The decision comes as countries worldwide are reporting record numbers of Covid cases, fueled by the highly transmissible Omicron variant. The U.S. reported 307,208 confirmed cases on Monday, and 330 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Meanwhile, China locked down a city of about 5 million residents as the country looks to curb the spread of the strain.
Authorities in Anyang, in central China’s Henan province, said on Monday that two Omicron cases had been detected on Sunday that are believed to be linked to two other cases found in Tianjin, state news agency Xinhua reported.
Meanwhile, Hong Kong announced the closure of kindergartens and primary schools for at least three weeks after infections were reported in students, and it suspended bus, train and taxi services outside the city.
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