Pfizer says COVID booster 'neutralizes' omicron variant

Pfizer vaccine
Photo credit Getty Images
By , WWJ Newsradio 950

A booster shot of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine might be enough to protect individuals from disease caused by the omicron variant, according to data released by the company Wednesday.

Pfizer and BioNTech said initial results from a laboratory study show that a third dose of their vaccine neutralizes the omicron variant, which is infecting more and more people every day across the nation.

The companies said preliminary data indicates that while two vaccine doses offer some protection, a booster shot raises neutralizing antibodies by 25-fold -- similar to levels seen after two doses against the original virus.

What the data shows, according to the companies, is that two doses of the vaccine may not be sufficient to protect against infection from the omicron virus, while a third dose offers "a more robust protection."

"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," Albert Bourla, Pfizer CEO, said in a statement. "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."

A single booster dose of the vaccine may be administered at least 6 months after completion of a primary series. The FDA has approved "mix-and-match" booster shots for anyone 18 and older, meaning you do not need to receive the same brand booster as your initial shots.

Pfizer and BioNTech said they are still working to develop a variant-specific vaccine for omicron and expect to have it available by March 2022 "in the event that an adaption is needed to further increase the level and duration of protection."

Pfizer announced the preliminary laboratory data in a press release. It has not yet received scientific review.

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