Vaccine makers have released their first joint statement regarding the likely effectiveness of their injection against Omicron Wednesday.
They claimed that two doses of the vaccine resulted in a significant decrease in neutralizing antibodies, but a third dose increased neutralizing antibodies by a factor of 25.
Follow COVID updates live from the UK and around the world
If needed, they can deliver a vaccine specifically for the Omicron strain by March 2022, they added.
Research found that blood obtained from people who had their third booster shots a month ago neutralized the Omicron variant about as effectively as blood after two doses fought off the original virus – which was first identified in China.
“Although two doses of the vaccine may still offer protection against serious illness caused by the Omicron strain, it is clear from this preliminary data that protection is improved with a third dose of our vaccine,” said Albert Bourla, Managing Director from Pfizer.
“Ensuring that as many people as possible are fully immunized with the first two sets of doses and a booster remains the best course of action to prevent the spread of COVID-19. “
The Omicron may be more contagious, but should we be concerned if it causes less severe illness?
BioNTech boss Ugur Sahin added that the latest data indicates that a third dose “could still provide a sufficient level of protection against diseases of any severity caused by the Omicron variant.”
Follow the Daily podcast on Podcasts Apple, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Streamer
He continued, “Massive vaccination and recall campaigns around the world could help us better protect people everywhere and through the winter season.
“We are continuing to work on a suitable vaccine which we believe will help induce a high level of protection against Omicron-induced COVID-19 disease as well as prolonged protection compared to the current vaccine. “
The Omicron strain was first detected in southern Africa last month, raising alarms around the world of a new wave of infections.
More than two dozen countries, from Japan to the United States, have reported cases.
Last month, the World Health Organization (WHO) classified Omicron as a ‘variant of concern’ but said there was no evidence to support the need for new vaccines specially designed to deal with it. despite its many mutations.
The new strain has also raised concerns that existing COVID-19 vaccines and treatments may be less effective against it.
Pfizer-BioNTech’s latest findings are broadly in line with a preliminary study released by researchers at the South African National Institute of Communicable Diseases this week, which suggested that Omicron was able to evade some immunity, but vaccines existing ones should still protect against serious illness and death.
However, a laboratory analysis at the University Hospital in Frankfurt, Germany found a reduced antibody response to Omicron even after three doses.
What other vaccine manufacturers are saying
Moderna’s Stéphane Bancel warned that current coronavirus vaccines are unlikely to be as effective against the Omicron variant as they were against the original strain.
The US company said a new vaccine designed for Omicron should be available by March of next year.
Meanwhile, Johnson & Johnson said it was testing the blood serum of participants in various trials for neutralizing activity against Omicron, as well as looking for a specific vaccine against the strain.
However, the company remained confident in the immune responses generated by its shooting against other variants to date in clinical studies.
And AstraZeneca has said it is examining the impact of Omicron on its jab, which was developed with the University of Oxford, as well as its cocktail of antibodies, saying it hopes its combination drug will retain its effectiveness. .