Pfizer, BioNTech say 3 doses of Covid-19 vaccine neutralise Omicron variant
Covid-19 vaccine makers Pfizer and BioNTech on Wednesday said that three doses of their shot was found to neutralise the much feared Omicron variant (B.1.1.529) of the coronavirus disease, following an initial laboratory study.
Further, the companies also said that two doses of the vaccine was found less effective in protection against the Omicron variant while a booster dose increased the neutralising antibodies by 25 times.
“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 vaccine makers said in an update on the new variant.
“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,” Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla 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,” he added.
BioNTech CEO said, “Our preliminary, first dataset indicates that a third dose could still offer a sufficient level of protection from disease of any severity caused by the Omicron variant.”
Meanwhile, the companies also said that a Omicron-specific Covid-19 vaccine, if needed, could be delivered by March 2022, pending regulatory approvals.
However, a study from the Africa Health Research Institute in South Africa has found that the variant can partially escape the protection offered by the two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. “There is a very large drop in neutralisation of Omicron by BNT162b2 immunity relative to the ancestral virus,” tweeted Alex Sigal, a professor at the research institute.
“A good booster probably would decrease your chance of infection, especially infection leading to more severe disease,” Bloomberg quoted Sigal as saying.