Healthcare

Pfizer, BioNTech to test omicron-specific vaccine on adults

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A health worker prepares an injection of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against the coronavirus at a vaccination centre, set up at the Dubai International Financial Center in the Gulf emirate of Dubai, on Feb. 3.

Pfizer and BioNTech announced on Tuesday that the companies will start a human trial to evaluate the efficacy, safety, and tolerability of a vaccine specifically modified to target the omicron variant of COVID-19. 

“Vaccines continue to offer strong protection against severe disease caused by Omicron. Yet, emerging data indicate vaccine-induced protection against infection and mild to moderate disease wanes more rapidly than was observed with prior strains,” Ugur Sahin, CEO and co-founder of BioNTech, said in a statement. 

The study will include 1,420 adults in several groups based on their vaccine status.

One group will be comprised of those who initially received the two primary doses of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine three to six months ago. The second group will include those who initially received the two-dose vaccination and a third booster dose three to six months ago. People who have never received any vaccine against COVID-19 will make up the third group. 

Pfizer also said that 4 billion doses of its original vaccine have been ordered for 2022 and production will proceed, regardless of trial results, because it continues to offer a high level of protection against severe disease and death from COVID-19, including the omicron variant.

“We recognize 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,” Kathrin Jansen, senior vice president and head of vaccine research and development at Pfizer, added. 

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said earlier in the month that an omicron-specific vaccine will likely be ready in March.

— Updated at 7:55 a.m.

Tags BioNTech BioNTech Booster dose Clinical trials Pfizer Pfizer Pfizer–BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant

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