Pfizer Says COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Shot Improves Protection Against Omicron Variant
On Wednesday, Pfizer said a booster shot of its COVID-19 vaccine could provide increased protection against the recently discovered Omicron variant.
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On Wednesday, Pfizer said a booster shot of its COVID-19 vaccine could provide increased protection against the Omicron variant.
Per the Associated Press, Pfizer and its partner on the vaccine, BioNTech, said two doses of the vaccine might not be enough to protect against the variant, but lab tests have shown that a booster shot can increase the level of virus-fighting antibodies by 25-fold.
“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 maximized with a third dose of our vaccine,” said Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla. "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."
The Omicron variant, first detected in South Africa, has prompted concern worldwide. It is not currently known if the variant is more infectious than other strains of the virus, or if it can make people more ill. However, past experience with variants such as Delta, which did prove to be more infectious, has likely impacted the cautious response to Omicron.
Pfizer’s findings are preliminary, and have yet to undergo scientific review. Per CNN, the company’s statement comes after researchers in South Africa said the Pfizer vaccine does not protect against the Omicron variant as much as it does against other strains. It is generally accepted, though, that a booster shot will increase protection against severe cases of COVID-19. Alex Sigal, from the Africa Health Research Institute in Durban, told CNN, “My impression is if you get a booster you are protected, especially against severe disease.”