German vaccine developer BioNTech and US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer have started their first clinical trial to test a coronavirus vaccine tailored to combat the Omicron variant.
The highly infectious variant has superceded Delta to become the dominant strain in many countries across the world.
The trial involving up to 1,420 people will test the safety, tolerability and efficacy of the vaccine candidate, the two companies announced on Tuesday.
A first group comprises 600 participants who have already received two vaccine doses of the previous vaccine.
The second group consists of boostered people who will receive another dose of the conventional vaccine or one dose of the Omicron vaccine.
The third, smaller group of just over 200 subjects is made up of unvaccinated people who have not previously contracted Covid-19, who will then receive three doses of the Omicron vaccine.
"The study is part of our scientific approach to develop a variant-based vaccine that provides protection from Omicron similar to what we have observed with previous variants, but at the same time lasts longer," explained BioNTech boss Ugur Sahin.
Vaccine adapted to Omicron
The Mainz-based pharmaceutical company and its US partner announced about a fortnight ago that they had already started production of a vaccine adapted to Omicron.
BioNTech had said that the two companies would be ready to supply the market by March, subject to regulatory approvals.
The US vaccine producer Moderna is also planning such a trial. The jab to be administrated to the first participant is imminent, a spokeswoman said. Further details were not disclosed.