Pfizer Says A Booster Can 'Neutralize' Omicron & 2 Doses May Not 'Maximize' Protection

The findings are based on preliminary lab studies.

Senior Global Editor
Pfizer Says A Booster Can ‘Neutralize’ Omicron & 2 Doses May Not ‘Maximize’ Protection

Pfizer and BioNTech said a third dose of their vaccine offers better protection against the Omicron variant than two doses.

The companies reported the findings on Wednesday, shortly after reports that current vaccines may be less effective against the variant.

Pfizer said two doses of its vaccine "may not be sufficient to protect against infection with the Omicron variant," although vaccinated people "may still be protected against severe forms of the disease."

However, preliminary studies showed a third dose of the vaccine was able to "neutralize" the variant, Pfizer said.

Omicron was first reported to the World Health Organization from South Africa late last month, and the WHO moved quickly to give it a name and label it a variant of concern.

Vaccine makers such as Pfizer and Moderna have also been racing to find out if their vaccines work against this new variant, which is heavily mutated when compared to other variants.

The variant is spreading quickly through South Africa, the New York Times reports. There are also signs that infection from the variant may be less severe, but more studies are needed to determine this.

Pfizer's findings match the reports of researchers in South Africa, who said that Omicron can evade the protection of two doses of the Pfizer vaccine, but that boosters are likely to offer protection.

"This is not a variant that has completely escaped," Alex Sigal of the Africa Health Research Institute told CNN. "It certainly escapes. It is certainly bad. But it looks to me like there are ways of dealing with it."

The variant has been detected in dozens of countries, including the United States and Canada, since late last month. Travel rules have tightened in response.

BioNTech's CEO said in a release that the company is working on an adapted vaccine, which "will help to induce a high level of protection against Omicron-induced COVID-19 disease."

This article’s cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.

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