Pfizer and BioNTech Provides Update on Omicron Variant

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Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE stated on Wednesday that serum antibodies produced by the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine (BNT162b2) neutralized the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant after three doses in an early laboratory investigation. Sera obtained one month after receiving the booster immunisation (third dosage of BNT162b2 vaccine) neutralised the Omicron variant to levels comparable to those seen after two doses of the wild-type SARS-CoV-2 spike protein.

According to preliminary laboratory findings, three doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine neutralise the Omicron variation (B.1.1.529 lineage), but two doses had much lower neutralisation titers.

According to the data, a third dose of BNT162b2 boosts neutralising antibody titers by 25-fold when compared to two doses against the Omicron variant.The titers obtained after the booster dosage are comparable to those obtained after two doses of the wild-type virus, which are linked with significant levels of protection.

Sera from people who received two doses of the current COVID-19 vaccination had more than a 25-fold reduced neutralisation titer against the Omicron variant than wild-type, indicating that two doses of BNT162b2 may not be enough to protect against infection with the Omicron variant. However, because the mutations in Omicron have no effect on the vast majority of epitopes targeted by vaccine-induced T cells, the companies believe that vaccinated individuals may still be protected against severe forms of the disease. They are closely monitoring real-world effectiveness against Omicron around the world.

A third dose could provide more strong protection, according to results from the firms’ additional tests, which indicate that a booster with the current COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech boosts antibody titers by 25-fold. According to preliminary data from the firms, a third treatment produces neutralising antibodies against Omicron at the same level as two doses against wild-type and other variations that appeared before Omicron. Antibody levels as high are linked to high efficacy against both the wild-type and mutant viruses. A third dose significantly raises CD8+ T cell numbers against numerous spike protein epitopes, which are thought to be linked to disease protection. The great majority of these epitopes are unchanged in the Omicron spike variation compared to the wild-type virus.

“Although two doses of the vaccine may still offer protection against severe disease caused by the Omicron strain, it’s clear from these preliminary data that protection is improved with a third dose of our vaccine.  Pfizer. “Ensuring as many people as possible are fully vaccinated with the first two dose series and a booster remains the best course of action to prevent the spread of COVID-19.” 

said Albert Bourla, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.

“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. Broad vaccination and booster campaigns around the world could help us to better protect people everywhere and to get through the winter season. We continue to work on an adapted vaccine which, we believe, will help to induce a high level of protection against Omicron-induced COVID-19 disease as well as a prolonged protection compared to the current vaccine.”

said Ugur Sahin, M.D., CEO and Co-Founder of BioNTech.

While these studies are preliminary, the companies will continue to collect more laboratory data and examine real-world effectiveness in order to verify and confirm Omicron protection and determine the best course of action.

Depending on regulatory approval, the first batches of the Omicron-based vaccine can be developed and delivered within 100 days. Other variant-specific vaccines tested by Pfizer and BioNTech showed very significant neutralising titers with a tolerable safety profile. Based on their previous experience, the businesses are confident that, if necessary, they will be able to offer an Omicron-based vaccine in March 2022.

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