Preliminary laboratory studies demonstrate that three doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine neutralise the Omicron variant (B.1.1.529 lineage) while two doses show significantly reduced neutralisation titers, the vaccine manufacturing companies have said.
The companies made this known in a joint statement on Wednesday titled, ‘Pfizer and BioNTech provide update on Omicron variant’.
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Pfizer, Albert Bourla, said, “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.
“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.”
Co-Founder of BioNTech, Ugur Sahin, said, “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.”
The companies said collection of more laboratory data would continue as well as evaluation of real-world effectiveness to assess and confirm protection against Omicron and inform the most effective path forward.
On November 25, 2021, the companies started to develop an Omicron-specific COVID-19 vaccine. The development will continue as planned in the event that a vaccine adaption is needed to increase the level and duration of protection against Omicron.
The Omicron variant first detected in South Africa has been confirmed in over 40 countries including Nigeria though no associated death has been recorded globally.
Many countries including the United Kingdom, the United States, and European nations have since slammed travel restrictions on African countries, a move that has been widely criticised as discriminatory.