Monday, June 5

Pfizer and BioNTech claim that three doses of their vaccine are effective against Omicron



The coronavirus vaccine developed by the Pfizer and BioNTech laboratories is “effective” against the omicron variant “after three doses,” as BioNTech reported today in a statement. This is the conclusion reached by the laboratory after careful genetic testing of the new strain. Even so, and taking into account the detailed results of the study, BionTech announces that it will prepare a new version of its vaccine adapted to this alteration of the virus.

According to studies carried out by German laboratories, creators of the drug, “the vaccine remains effective against the coronavirus, including the Omicron variant, but only after three doses have been administered.” The company acknowledges that the new variant “is probably not sufficiently neutralized after two doses.”

«We are going to develop a specific vaccine against the omicron variant and we hope to have it available between now and March ”, adds the company spokesperson. Until then, “a third dose provides a level of antibodies to neutralize omicron similar to that achieved after two doses » compared to other variants, so it recommends extending the application of third doses.

According to Albert Bourla, president and CEO of Pfizer, quoted in the same statement, two doses offer protection against omicron and prevent severe disease from developingBut after studies it is clear that “protection improves with a third dose.”

One hundred days deadline

Previously, according to a study conducted in South Africa, the vaccine from BionTech, based in Mainz, Germany, and associated with the US group Pfizer, had only been reported to offer partial protection against this variant. The neutralization was “greatly decreased” compared to a previous covid strain, explained Alex Sigal, a professor at the African Health Research Institute in South Africa, basing his claims on preliminary results of his own research. His laboratory examined the blood of twelve people who were vaccinated with the Pfizer-BionTech brand and observed a 41-fold decrease in antibodies compared to previous strains. These are, however, preliminary data and have not yet been peer-reviewed. The head of Biontech, Ugur Sahin, has advanced that his own data will be used as a reference and that the laboratory will need one hundred days to be able to serve the first batch of doses already adapted to the new variant. At the moment there are no meaningful studies on how the vaccines of Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and other drug manufacturers behave in the face of the new threat.

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One of America’s leading infectious disease experts, Anthony Fauci, has acknowledged that preliminary results suggest that
the variant is probably more infectious but less likely to cause disease progression.
In Germany, the Berlin virologist Christian Drosten has stated after the first reproduction calculations that the high rate of spread of the omicron variant makes it faster “than any political decision-making option.”

In summer, the worst moment Omicron

The chief virologist of the Berlin Charité estimates that Germany will suffer its worst Omicron moment in the summer of 2022. “The delta virus remains our main problem for now and will remain so until the end of January, but from then on the omicron virus will prevail until the summer ”, is his prediction, published on the NDR podcast ‘The Coronavirus Update’. And in any case, “it cannot be said for the moment that the problem of the coronavirus will end at Easter in Germany”, which for now has only registered between 25 and 30 cases of Ómicron.

Drosten too warns against euphoria, in view of reports from South Africa, facing a presumably mild course of the disease and continues to appeal to the unvaccinated: “It could be that the severity of the disease is not only not reduced. It could even happen that it becomes more difficult, “he said, insisting that immunization through the booster vaccine protects better than a cured infection. “In short,” he concluded, “I don’t want to paint the devil on the wall, but I think it is very necessary to take virus mutations very seriously.”

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First official statement

In this first official statement from vaccine manufacturers on the efficacy of their injection against Ómicron, BioNTech and Pfizer have said in a joint statement that two doses of the vaccine resulted in significantly lower neutralizing antibodies, but that a third dose of its vaccine increased antibodies against the new variant.

Blood drawn from people who received their third booster dose a month ago neutralized the Omicron variant as effectively as the parent virus was fought with two doses. “Ensuring that as many people as possible are fully vaccinated with the first two doses and the booster dose remains the best route to prevent the spread of Covid-19,” explains Pfizer chief Albert Bourla in the statement.

These findings are in line with the preliminary study published by researchers at the African Health Research Institute in South Africa, which says that Ómicron may partially escaping the protection of two doses of the vaccine. However, a laboratory test at the University Hospital of Frankfur, Germany, found a reduced antibody response to Omicron even after three injections.

Similarly, Pfizer and BioNTech have added that if necessary they can have an Omicron vaccine in March 2022.

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