An antigen against the Omicron variant of SARS-COV-2, developed by Cuban biopharmaceutical industry, is ready to be formulated into a vaccine candidate, and to start the corresponding preclinical and clinical trials, according to the Granma newspaper.
Dr. Eduardo Martinez Diaz, president of BioCubaFarma, commented to the media that the antigen has been produced at the laboratory level, and soon there will be a vaccine candidate to evaluate it in the preclinical and in humans against the Omicron variant.
The manager also explained that among the variants derived from Omicron is BA.5, which is causing a new outbreak of COVID-19 in the world, and a trend of increasing cases in Cuba in recent weeks.
The BA.2.75 subvariant, known as Centaur, has also appeared and is considered to be of concern by the World Health Organization.
According to Martinez Diaz, BA.2.75 shares 45 mutations with Omicron BA.5 and has 15 of its own, among which there are two that are worrying because they facilitate the entry of the virus into the cell.
This variant, reported in about 12 countries, can be five times more contagious than Omicron BA.1, which wore that crown, although there is still not much information on whether it increases the risk of severity.
Regarding the effectiveness of anti-COVID-19 vaccines, the scientist argued that the new variants increasingly escape induced immunity and even that obtained due to virus infection, but that current vaccines still have a high level of protection against infection, severe illness and death, especially with high antibody titers.
That is why our country’s decision to reinforce with another dose, he added.
He also highlighted that the immunity of around 6,000 people has been studied, and the preliminary results show that there is a high level of immunity against the virus in the Cuban population.