Moderna would have a vaccine against the Omicron variant of the coronavirus in March

Moderna Inc. could have a Covid-19 booster vaccine targeting the variant Omicron tested and ready to apply for authorization in the United States in March, the company’s president said Wednesday.

The president of Moderna, Stephen HogeHe said he believes that booster vaccines that carry genes specifically targeting mutations in the recently discovered Omicron variant would be the fastest way to address any anticipated reduction in vaccine efficacy.

“We have already started that program,” he told Reuters.

The company is also working on a multivalent vaccine that would include up to four different variants of the coronavirus, including Omicron. That could take several more months, he said.

The United States identified its first case of Covid-19 caused by the Omicron variant in California, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Wednesday.

Omicron, called a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization, is being studied to see if it is more contagious or causes more serious disease than other variants, and if it can elude the protection of current vaccines.

Taking into account previous guidance from the US Food and Drug Administration, which has required clinical trials to be carried out in the middle phase, Hoge said the process could take three to four months.

“The Omicron-specific boosters, realistically, will not occur before March and maybe more in the second quarter,” Hoge said, unless the FDA changes its guidance on the data required for authorization.

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