With very little known about the new Covid variant, labeled Omicron by the World Health Organization, major vaccine manufacturers such as AstraZeneca and Moderna have stated that they are continually working to find ways to modify their shots to the troubling mutated strain of the virus. 

The variant was first detected in South Africa and was dubbed “a variant of concern” by the World Health Organization  due to the rapid rise of infections within the country. 

AstraZeneca said that the company “is also already conducting research in locations where the variant has been identified, namely in Botswana and Eswatini.” 

Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel emphasized the importance of monitoring the evolution of the virus. 

“From the beginning, we have said that as we seek to defeat the pandemic, it is imperative that we are proactive as the virus evolves,” he said. “The mutations in the Omicron variant are concerning and for several days, we have been moving as fast as possible to execute our strategy to address this variant.”

Pfizer and BioTech are also investigating the new strain of Covid, as they await data from recent lab tests that “will provide more information about whether [Omicron] could be an escape variant that may require an adjustment of our vaccine if the variant spreads globally.”

Starting Monday, President Joe Biden said that the U.S. will forbid admission to most travelers from eight countries located in Southern Africa.