Pfizer Says Refined COVID Vaccine Boosts Omicron Protection

Pfizer announced Saturday that adapting its COVID-19 vaccine to better target the omicron variant is safe and working – just days before regulators debate whether to supply to Americans or not Enhanced photo update This waterfall.

The vaccines currently used in the United States still provide strong protection against severe COVID-19 illness and death — especially if people have been given a booster dose. But those vaccines target the original strain of coronavirus, and their effectiveness against any infection is markedly reduced when the super-infectious omicron mutant emerges.

Now with the even infectious relative of omicrons being widely spread, the Food and Drug Administration is considering requesting a change to the formulations for vaccines produced by both Pfizer and Pfizer. manufacturer Moderna in the hope that the modified booster could provide better protection against another surge of COVID-19 expected this fall and winter.

Pfizer and partner BioNTech have been working on two different ways to update their injections – targeting just omicrons, or a combination booster that adds omicron protection to the original vaccine. They also tested whether to keep today’s standard dosage – 30 micrograms – or double the intensity of the shots.

In a study of 1,200 middle-aged adults who received three doses of the vaccine, Pfizer said both booster injections prompted a significant jump in anti-omicron antibodies.

“Based on these data, we believe we have two very strong candidates that have adapted to omicrons,” Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said in a statement.

Pfizer’s omicron-only enhancer triggered the strongest immune response against that variant.

But many experts say combination vaccines may be the best approach as they will retain the proven benefits of the original COVID-19 vaccine while adding new protection against omicron. And Pfizer says a month after people received its combination shot, they had a 9 to 11-fold increase in anti-omicron antibodies. That’s 1.5 times better than another initial dose of the vaccine.

And importantly, preliminary laboratory studies show that the tweaked injections also produce antibodies that are resistant to omicron’s genetically distinct relatives called BAs. 4 and BA.5, although that’s not very high.

Moderna recently announced same result from trials of its combination shot, which scientists call a “dual value” vaccine.

The studies were not designed to track how well the updated boosters prevented COVID-19 cases. It’s also unclear how long any additional protections will last.

But FDA scientific advisers will publicly debate the data on Tuesday, as they grapple with whether to recommend changes to the vaccine formula – ahead of similar decisions by other countries. .

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