Pfizer and BioNTech said on Wednesday, a three-shot course of their COVID-19 vaccine was able to neutralise the new Omicron variant in a laboratory test and they could deliver an Omicron-based vaccine in March 2022 if needed.
According to BioNTech and Pfizer on the likely efficacy of their shot against Omicron, two vaccine doses resulted in significantly lower neutralising antibodies, a third dose of their vaccine increased the neutralising antibodies by a factor of 25.
Blood obtained from people that had their third booster shot a month ago neutralised the Omicron variant about as effectively as blood after two doses fought off the original virus first found in China.
Pfizer boss Albert Bourla said in the statement, “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.
Though the necessity remains unclear, the companies said they would continue their effort to bring an Omicron-specific COVID-19 vaccine to market, which they kick-started when the new lineage first raised global concern among scientists on Nov 25.
“A planned output of 4 billion doses of the Comirnaty vaccine in 2022 was not expected to change if an adapted vaccine was required,” they added.
The findings are broadly in line with a preliminary study published by researchers at the Africa Health Research Institute in South Africa on Tuesday, saying that Omicron can partially evade protection from two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, suggesting also that a third shot might help fend off infection.
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Pfizer, BioNTech vaccine neutralises Omicron with three shots