Omicron: Pfizer claims third vaccine dose key to curb spread of new COVID-19 strain

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A new study published by Pfizer and BioNTech claimed that serum antibodies induced through its vaccine nutralise the impact of Omicron variant after three doses


IMAGE: Unsplash/AP

A new study published by Pfizer and BioNTech on Wednesday claimed that serum antibodies induced through the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine neutralise the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant after three doses. As researchers have continued to engage in digging more information on the immune evasive variant, the pharmaceutical company informed that their initial laboratory study demonstrated the booster shot reduced Omicron-related infections when compared to those observed for the wild-type virus spike protein after two doses. The data is expected to bolster the booster shot drive around the world and lead to the development of strain-specific vaccines.

According to the study, the researchers observed a 25-fold reduction in neutralising antibodies that fight the variant. However, the booster along with two earlier shots only restored protection to the initial levels, the pharma company said in its statement. The study also emphasised that two doses of the vaccine may not be sufficient, adding that along with booster shots, eventually there will be a need for an Omicron-targeted shot.

“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 the third dose of our vaccine,” said Albert Bourla, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Pfizer.

Pfizer says Omicron shot to be ready by March

Ensuring that three-dose vaccination remains the best course of action to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the study informed that the companies have started to develop an Omicron-specific COVID-19 vaccine. “The development will continue as planned in the event that a vaccine adaptation is needed to increase the level and duration of protection against Omicron,” the statement said. As per the report, the first batches of the Omicron-based vaccines will be ready for delivery within 100 days, pending regulatory approval. Pfizer and BioNTech have also tested other variant-specific vaccines, which have produced strong neutralising titers and a tolerable safety profile.

It is pertinent to mention that the B.1.1.529 Variant of COVID was first detected in the Gauteng province of South Africa last month. After African scientists apprised the World Health Organisation (WHO) about the new strain, the apex health agency labelled the mutation as “Variant of Concern.” So far the virus has also been said to be more virulent than the Delta variant by South African scientists as it has overall 52 mutations with over 30 on its spike protein, facilitating it to bind to human cells.

(Image: Unsplash/AP)

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