BioNTech and Pfizer said on Wednesday that a three-shot course of their COVID-19 vaccine was able to neutralize the new Omicron variant in a lab test and that they could deliver an Omicron-based vaccine in March 2022 if needed. .
In the vaccine makers’ first official statement on the likely effectiveness of their injection against Omicron, BioNTech and Pfizer said two doses of vaccine resulted in a significant decrease in neutralizing antibodies, but a third dose of their vaccine increased antibodies. neutralizers by a factor of 25.
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 the original virus first identified in China.
“Ensuring that as many people as possible are fully vaccinated with the first two sets of doses and a booster remains the best course of action to prevent the spread of Covid-19,” said Pfizer boss Albert Bourla, in the press release.
While the need remains uncertain, the companies have said they will continue their efforts to bring an Omicron-specific Covid-19 vaccine to market, which they launched when the new line first raised global concern. scientists on November 25.
A planned production of 4 billion doses of the Comirnaty vaccine in 2022 is not expected to change if a suitable vaccine is needed, they added.
The results are broadly in line with a preliminary study released Tuesday by researchers at the Africa Health Research Institute in South Africa, claiming that Omicron may partially escape the protection of two doses of the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine, also suggesting that a third stroke might help fend off infection.
Laboratory analysis at the University Hospital in Frankfurt, Germany, however, revealed a reduced antibody response to Omicron even after three injections.
The US-German vaccine partners have also adopted an optimistic tone that their vaccine will protect against any serious disease from Omicron, although lab data has not given new information on this.
The vast majority of surface structures on the T-cell-targeted Omicron spike protein, which typically emerge after vaccination, are unaffected by Omicron mutations, they said.
“Companies believe that vaccinated individuals can still be protected against severe forms of the disease,” they added. T cells are the second pillar of an immune response, alongside antibodies, and are believed to prevent serious disease by attacking infected human cells.
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