- Omicron variant led to a 25 fold drop in virus-blocking antibodies as reported by lab studies of Pfizer and BioNTech
- The companies indicate that a third booster vaccine shot will be indispensable in neutralizing the new variant
Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE are optimistic that a booster dose of their covid-19 vaccine will effectively neutralize the Omicron variant. The companies made this statement ahead of the initial lab studies wherein researchers noted some striking observations.
The levels of neutralizing antibodies reduced 25 times in people with the variant as compared to people with the original Covid-19 strain, in people who had received two vaccine shots. However, the third booster vaccine shot led to a 25 fold increase in the levels of the neutralizing antibodies against the variant yielding the same level of protective proteins as observed against the older versions of the virus post-injection of the standard two doses.
The lab findings necessitate a third dose to ensure effective protection against the Omicron variant. Pfizer revealed that the Omicron-targeted boosters shots will be ready by March.
Apprehensions over the effectiveness of the vaccine against the Omicron variant had triggered market volatility and evoked travel restrictions since its discovery in South Africa last month. The outcome of the study has kept the US stock market afloat with S&P 500 futures gaining 0.2%. The shares of Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE have risen by 0.5% and 3% respectively.
Pfizer and BioNTech backed the data from all across the world endeavouring to ascertain the impact of Omicron on vaccine protection. Researches from South Africa reported a 41-fold reduction in the virus-tackling antibodies against Omicron in contrast to the initial virus strain that was transmitted at the outset of the pandemic. Meanwhile, a German team reported a 37-fold decrease in the antibodies against Omicron as compared to the exceedingly transmissible Delta variant.
Contradictory studies from Stockholm’s Karolinska Institute indicated that the antibody reduction in the case of Omicron was only slightly worse. The T-cells of the immune system are the virus-tackling component that should effectively stave off the variant. T cells recognize approximately 80% of the viral components known as epitopes.
However, Pfizer boss, Albert Bourla stresses that the best way to ensure the prevention of the spread of the virus is to vaccinate as many people as possible with the first two-dose series followed by a booster.