Pfizer is Working on an Omicron-Specific Booster

On Wednesday, Pfizer and BioNTech issued a public release about how their vaccines protect against the omicron strain of COVID-19. This is something the World Health Organization (WHO) said was a “variant of major worry” on November 26.

In the official statement, Pfizer said three doses of the vaccine appear to give “stronger protection” than just two doses. That said, there is still a variant-specific dosage in the creations, which should be ready in March.

In the press statement, Pfizer said the data came from “an early laboratory study.” They also clarified the vaccines were able to fight off the omicron variant.

Confidence in the Efficiency of a Third Dosage

Pfizer said it may be possible to get even more protection by getting a third dose of the COVID-19 immunization from Pfizer and BioNTech. This shows a booster with the existing vaccine increases levels of antibodies by 25%.

A third dose, based on preliminary data, gives the same level of antibodies that neutralizes omicron as the two doses against the wild type, as well as other variants that were around before omicron.

Having high levels of antibodies is linked to being able to fight both the wild type viral infection and these variants of it. A third dose also has a big effect on the levels of CD8+ T cells that fight off multiple spike protein epitopes.

Because the omicron spike variant doesn’t have many changes from the original virus, most of these epitopes are the same as the wild-type virus.

Albert Bourla, chairman and CEO of Pfizer, said two doses of the immunization may still safeguard against serious disease induced by the omicron strain. The early results showed the third dose of their vaccine is better at protecting against this strain.

Likewise, making sure as many people as possible get the first two doses and a booster is still the best way to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Head and co-founder of BioNTech, Ugur Sahin, M.D., says their data shows a third dosage could still be enough to protect against any kind of disease caused by the omicron variant.

They thought if they spread vaccination and booster initiatives all over the world, they could better protect everyone and get through the winter. Finally, BioNTech said they were going to keep working on a modified vaccine they think will help protect people against omicron.

How Quickly Work on This Dose Started

The press release says Thursday, November 25 was when the manufacturers started working on an omicron-specific COVID-19 vaccine. The information about the variant wasn’t commonly recognized until Friday, November 26.

Companies are very confident if they need to make an omicron-based vaccine in March 2022, they will be able to do so. They have also started clinical studies with vaccines that target specific variants (Alpha, Beta, Delta, and Alpha/Delta Mix). 

Data from these studies will be sent to regulatory agencies around the world to expedite the process of acclimating the vaccine and getting FDA clearance for an omicron-specific vaccine.

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