Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE announced today that they have begun clinical trials of a new version of their vaccine specifically designed for the Omicron variant of Covid-19, which escapes part of the protection provided by the companies' original dosing vaccine.
The companies plan to test the immune response generated by the Omicron-based vaccine, both in three doses in unvaccinated individuals and as a booster dose in individuals who have already received two doses of their original vaccine.
Pfizer / BioNtech is also testing a fourth dose of the existing vaccine versus a fourth dose of the Omicron-based vaccine for people who have already received their third dose of the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine three to six months earlier.
The companies plan to study the safety and tolerability of doses in 1.420 people aged 18 to 55 years.
"While existing research and real-world data show that booster doses continue to provide a high level of protection against serious illness and Omicron treatment, we recognize the need to be prepared in the event that this protection weakens with Omicron. "Pfizer Vaccine Research Chief Kathryn Jansen said in a statement that she could help address Omicron and new variants in the future."
According to the president and CEO of the German BioNTech Ugur Sahin, the protection of the original vaccine against its mild or moderate forms Covid-19 seems to be disappearing faster than Omicron.
"This study takes place in the context of our scientific approach aimed at producing vaccines targeted against variants that succeed in developing levels of protection against Omicron similar to those developed against variants that appeared earlier, but with a more "Long-term protection," Sahin said.
Pfizer has stated that the two doses of the original vaccine may not be enough to protect against Omicron-type infection and that protection against hospitalization and death may be weakened.
However, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that a third dose of mRNA vaccine, such as Pfizer / BioNTech, offers 90% protection against hospitalization due to Covid-19.