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Pfizer CEO announces plans to launch Omicron-specific COVID-19 vaccine

Bourla was speaking in response to questioning during a healthcare conference as to whether a new jab would be needed to protect against Omicron

Pfizer

Albert Bourla, CEO of Pfizer, has announced that Pfizer and BioNTech have started manufacturing a hybrid vaccine to target the Omicron variant and the original COVID-19 strain.

Pfizer hopes the newly developed vaccine will offer better and more reinforced protection against the Omicron variant.

Bourla said: “We should be in a position for regulatory approval and launch by March, [when] we will have not only data, but I think we will be ready almost to go, file and launch if it is successful.”

However, there has been speculation worldwide as to whether a fourth booster is necessary, with the White House chief medical advisor Dr Anthony Fauci commenting in December that he believed there a fourth booster is not necessary, given that the already available boosters work well against the variant.

Current data from the UK has shown that both Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines are only around 10% effective at preventing symptomatic infection from the Omicron variant 20 weeks after receiving the second dose.

The data comes from a study by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), which also found that the original two doses still provide adequate protection against severe illness.

In early January 2022, Moderna revealed that it could begin clinical trials of a specific booster jab to target the highly-transmissible Omicron strain shortly, with hopes to deploy the vaccine in the autumn.

While in an interview with CNBC, Bourla commented that the vaccine will also target the other COVID-19 variants in circulation.

Despite the lack of clarity as to whether or not an Omicron-specific vaccine is needed, or how it would be administered, Pfizer are aiming to produce doses ready for distribution as some countries want it to be made available as soon as possible.

Israel has moved forward in making a fourth booster dose of Pfizer/BioNTech’s vaccine available to healthcare workers and people aged 60 and over who are immunocompromised.

Israel have found that a fourth dose vaccination protects against the virus, driving a five-fold increase in antibodies a week after receiving the jab.

“The hope is that we will achieve something that will have way, way better protection, particularly against infections, because the protection against the hospitalisations and the severe disease is reasonable right now, with the current vaccines, as long as you are having the third dose,” Bourla said.

Article by
Fleur Jeffries

12th January 2022

From: Research

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