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Pfizer and BioNTech launch trial of Omicron-targeted COVID vaccine

FILE PHOTO: A vial labeled “Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine” is seen on this illustration taken January 16, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

NEW YORK — Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE stated on Tuesday they began a scientific trial to check a brand new model of their vaccine particularly designed to focus on the COVID-19 Omicron variant, which has eluded a few of the safety offered by the unique two-dose vaccine routine.

Banking on volunteers in america, the businesses plan to check the immune response generated by the Omicron-based vaccine each as a three-shot routine in unvaccinated individuals and as a booster shot for individuals who already obtained two doses of their authentic vaccine.

They’re additionally testing a fourth dose of the present vaccine in opposition to a fourth dose of the Omicron-based vaccine in individuals who obtained a 3rd dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine three to 6 months earlier.

The businesses plan to check the protection and tolerability of the pictures within the greater than 1,400 individuals who shall be enrolled within the trial.

“Whereas present analysis and real-world information present that boosters proceed to supply a excessive degree of safety in opposition to extreme illness and hospitalization with Omicron, we acknowledge the must be ready within the occasion this safety wanes over time and to probably assist deal with Omicron and new variants sooner or later,” Pfizer’s head of vaccine analysis and improvement, Kathrin Jansen, stated in an announcement.

Relying on the quantity of scientific trial information required by regulators, it is probably not potential to understand a present plan to launch an Omicron-targeting vaccine by the top of March, BioNTech stated.

Pfizer has stated that two doses of the unique vaccine is probably not adequate to guard in opposition to an infection from Omicron, and that safety in opposition to hospitalizations and deaths could also be waning.

Nonetheless, the U.S. Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention says a 3rd dose of an mRNA vaccine just like the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has offered 90% safety in opposition to hospitalization as a result of COVID-19.

Some international locations have already began providing further booster doses, however a current examine from Israel confirmed that whereas a fourth dose of an mRNA vaccine boosted antibodies, the extent was not excessive sufficient to stop Omicron an infection.


The European Medicines Company (EMA) stated on Friday that worldwide regulators need information from scientific research just like the one being performed by Pfizer and BioNTech earlier than approval of a brand new vaccine.

EMA stated these research ought to present that the brand new vaccines elicit extra neutralizing antibodies within the blood than present vaccines and may additionally shield in opposition to new variants of concern.

BioNTech declined to touch upon what kind of information it was requested to file with regulators.

It stated an evaluation of antibodies elicited by its Omicron-targeted booster ought to assist reply whether or not pictures shall be wanted that deal with multiple variant at a time. It hopes to point out the antibodies neutralize a spectrum of variants.

Nonetheless, some scientists query whether or not any change is at the moment wanted.

“The aim of this vaccine is to guard in opposition to severe sickness,” stated Dr. Paul Offit, an infectious illness skilled on the College of Pennsylvania. “Up to now, these vaccines do this, together with safety in opposition to Omicron.”

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