Omicron Variant: First Data on 3rd Dose of Pfizer-BioNTech Vaccine Encouraging

Labs BioNTech and Pfizer on Wednesday reported encouraging preliminary data on the possible effectiveness of three doses of their COVID-19 vaccine, called Comirnaty, against the new Omicron variant of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.

These preliminary laboratory tests were carried out with a non-pathogenic “pseudovirus” but which had the main characteristic mutations of the Omicron variant and of the serum obtained from vaccinated people. This first indication of a possible efficacy of the Comirnaty vaccine against the Omicron variant was evaluated by measuring the mean concentration of neutralizing antibodies in people who received the booster one month before or who received the second dose of the initial vaccination schedule three weeks before.

In a joint statement, the two groups explain that for serum from people who received just two doses, the average concentration of neutralizing antibodies directed against Omicron is more than 25 times lower than that of antibodies against the initial strain of the SARS virus. CoV-2. This suggests that this regimen may be insufficient to protect against this variant, although it may still protect against severe forms of COVID-19 through other immune mechanisms.

3rd essential dose

On the other hand, tests carried out with serum from people who have received a booster dose suggest that the mean concentration of neutralizing antibodies directed against Omicron is then approximately 25 times higher.

It then becomes comparable to antibody concentrations against the initial strain and previous variants observed after two doses, corresponding to levels associated with high vaccine efficacy.

“Although two doses of the vaccine are likely to offer protection against potentially severe forms of COVID-19 related to contamination with the Omicron strain, these preliminary data suggest that this protection is improved with a third dose of our vaccine,” notes Albert Bourla. , CEO of Pfizer, quoted in this press release, which is the first official communication from vaccine producers on the subject of efficacy against the Omicron variant.

A specific vaccine in March

Pfizer and BioNTech specify that if necessary, they can develop a vaccine based specifically on the Omicron variant by next March.

“We are continuing to work on a suitable vaccine that, we hope, will activate a high level of protection against COVID-19 linked to the Omicron variant, as well as long-term protection compared to the currently available vaccine,” underlines Ugur Sahin, CEO and co-founder of BioNTech. , also quoted in the press release.

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