Following an initial laboratory research, Covid-19 vaccine producers Pfizer and BioNTech announced on Wednesday that three doses of their shot were shown to neutralise the much-feared Omicron strain (B.1.1.529) of the coronavirus disease.
Furthermore, two doses of the vaccination were found to be less efficient in protecting against the Omicron form, whereas a booster dose raised neutralising antibodies by 25 times.
“Sera from individuals who received two doses of the current Covid-19 vaccine did show, on average, more than a 25-fold reduction in neutralisation titers against the Omicron variant compared to wild-type, indicating that two doses of BNT162b2 may not be sufficient to protect against infection with the Omicron variant,” the vaccine makers said in a statement about the new variant.
“While two doses of the vaccination may still provide protection against severe sickness caused by the Omicron strain,” Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla stated, “it’s evident from these preliminary data that protection is better with a third dose of our vaccine.” “The best course of action to avoid the spread of Covid-19 is to ensure that as many people as possible are properly vaccinated with the initial two dose series and a booster,” he added.
“Our preliminary, first dataset indicates that a third dose could still offer a sufficient level of protection from disease of any severity caused by the Omicron variant,” said BioNTech CEO, “Our preliminary, first dataset indicates that a third dose could still offer a sufficient level of protection from disease of any severity caused by the Omicron variant.”
Meanwhile, the firms noted that, subject regulatory clearances, an Omicron-specific Covid-19 vaccine might be supplied by March 2022.
However, according to a study by the Africa Health Research Institute in South Africa, the variation can partially evade the protection provided by the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine’s two doses. According to Alex Sigal, a professor at the research centre, “there is a very big decline in neutralisation of Omicron by BNT162b2 immunity relative to the ancestral virus.”
“A good booster would undoubtedly reduce your probability of infection, especially infection that leads to more severe disease,” Sigal told Bloomberg.