Trials have got underway on a new Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine that targets the Omicron Covid-19 variant. According to a Reuters report, the trials will examine the level of immune response generated against the highly-contagious strain. It’s understood researchers will test the vaccine as a 3-dose regimen in unvaccinated participants and as a booster in those who’ve had 2 doses of the original Pfizer vaccine.
The trial will also compare the results of giving a fourth dose of the current vaccine to people who’ve received a third dose of it 3 – 6 months earlier, compared to giving them a fourth dose of the new one. Kathrin Jansen, head of research & development at Pfizer, says 1,400 people will take part in the trial.
“While current research and real-world data show that boosters continue to provide a high level of protection against severe disease and hospitalisation with Omicron, we recognise the need to be prepared in the event this protection wanes over time and to potentially help address Omicron and new variants in the future.”
Data appears to confirm that 2 doses of the existing Pfizer vaccine is not enough to protect against infection from Omicron. Health experts are also concerned that the level of protection against hospitalisation and deaths is also declining. However, a third dose does appear to boost immunity, with the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention saying it offer protection of up to 90% against hospitalisation.
According to the Reuters report, Omicron has replaced Delta as the dominant variant in many countries around the world. Furthermore, Omicron has now begun dividing into various sub-forms, including BA2, which has prompted the World Health Organisation to call for more research into the new sub-variant.
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