A booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine appears to offer strong protection against the omicron variant, the companies said on Wednesday.
They said the results of the lab study show that a third dose of their vaccine provides a similar level of neutralizing antibodies against omicron, comparable to two doses against the original coronavirus and other variants that have emerged.
Blood samples from those who received only the primary series of the vaccine, on average, saw a 25-fold drop in antibodies to the new variant. This may indicate that two doses of the vaccine may not be enough to protect against infection with omicron, although they can still prevent serious illness, the companies said.
As the highly mutated omicron variant, first identified in South Africa, spreads around the world, scientists are rushing to determine how available vaccines will work against it.
“Three doses against omicron is almost equivalent to the effectiveness of two doses we had against the original variant,” Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said TODAY Wednesday.
“You may have to go get the third booster faster and it’s something that health authorities should look at very carefully and make their recommendations,” he added. “But clearly having two doses for nothing protects you much better than having nothing. “
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Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging all adults aged 18 and over to receive a booster injection 6 months after their first Pfizer or Moderna series or two months after the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine injection.
Vaccine makers have said the results are preliminary. The results were detailed in a press release, and the full data has not yet been made available to other scientists for review.
But laboratory studies are only one piece of the puzzle. Further data is also needed to determine whether a new vaccine is needed. Scientists need to understand that the omicron variant is transmissible (early indications suggest that it is more contagious than the delta variant) as well as how it makes people sick (early data suggests that the disease caused by the variant is more benign).
Pfizer-BioNTech’s results are the first to be announced by vaccine manufacturers.
According to the press release, blood samples were tested from people who had received two or three doses of the vaccine. Samples were taken three weeks after the second dose or one month after the booster.
A South African research institute also released lab results on how Pfizer’s vaccine performed against omicron on Tuesday, showing an approximately forty-fold reduction in vaccine-induced antibodies that could neutralize the new variant. . However, this study did not examine booster injections.
On November 25, vaccine manufacturers began to develop a vaccine specific to omicron. The first batches of the vaccine can be produced and ready for delivery in about 100 days, depending on clearance from federal regulators, Pfizer said.
“If we need a new vaccine, these tests tell me that we can get a really good one if we need it against omicron, because we are really able, with a few tweaks, to produce much better results,” he said. declared Bourla.
“The current recall will maintain protection, but if we need it, we’ll make one and have it by March,” he said.
Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are expected to release lab results for the omicron variant in the coming days. University research institutes are also studying the efficacy of the omicron vaccine.
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