Pfizer: Three doses of our COVID vaccine effective against Omicron variant
Pfizer and BioNTech have disclosed that three doses of its COVID-19 vaccine provides sufficient protection against the Omicron variant.
Since the discovery of the new strain and its designation as a variant of concern (VOC) by the World Health Organisation (WHO), there have been concerns about how effective current vaccines are against it.
The compaines in a statement released on Wednesday said blood tests from persons who received the booster dose showed that it neutralised the Omicron variant to levels that are comparable to previous versions of the virus after two doses.
“Sera from individuals who received two doses of the current COVID-19 vaccine did exhibit, on average, more than a 25-fold reduction in neutralization titers against the Omicron variant compared to wild-type, indicating that two doses of BNT162b2 may not be sufficient to protect against infection with the Omicron variant,” the statement reads.
“A more robust protection may be achieved by a third dose as data from additional studies of the companies indicate that a booster with the current COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech increases the antibody titers by 25-fold.”
The companies, however, said they believe that individuals who received two doses may still be protected against severe forms of the disease, adding that they are closely monitoring real-world effectiveness against Omicron.
“Although two doses of the vaccine may still offer protection against severe disease caused by the Omicron strain, it’s clear from these preliminary data that protection is improved with a third dose of our vaccine,” Albert Bourla, Pfizer chief executive officer, said.
“Ensuring as many people as possible are fully vaccinated with the first two dose series and a booster remains the best course of action to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”
The companies also said an Omicron-specific version of the anti-coronavirus vaccine, currently in development by BioNTech, would be available by March.