Pfizer has begun a clinical trial study on a vaccine specifically to provide protection from the coronavirus Omicron variant.
The study will examine the immune response and safety of a new jab in up to 1,420 healthy adults aged 18 to 55, Pfizer and BioNTech, its partner in the first vaccine, announced on Tuesday.
‘Vaccines continue to offer strong protection against severe disease caused by Omicron,’ BioNTech CEO and co-founder Ugur Sahin stated. ‘Yet, emerging data indicate vaccine-induced protection against infection and mild to moderate disease wanes more rapidly than was observed with prior strains.’
The goal of the study is to develop a ‘variant-based vaccine’ that gives similar protection against highly transmissible Omicron as Pfizer’s jab did for earlier strains of Covid-19, Sahin said.
A first group of about 615 participants in the study received two doses of the existing Pfizer jab from 90 to 170 days after enrolling in the trial, and will get one or two doses of the Omicron-specific vaccine, according to the drugmakers.
The second group of about 600 people had three doses of the existing Pfizer shot before taking part in the study and will take another dose of the current vaccine or one dose of the jab targeting Omicron.
A third group of participants are not vaccinated and will have three doses of the Omicron-specific vaccine.
One person has already gotten the Omicron-specific vaccine, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The results of the study are expected in the first half of 2022.
Pfizer and BioNTech had previously said they planned to make about 4billion doses of its current coronavirus vaccine this year.
‘And this capacity is not expected to change if an adapted vaccine is required,’ they said.
If the Omicron-specific vaccine shows to be effective and safe, Pfizer may ask US regulators for authorization and distribute it as soon as March, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla has said, according to the Journal.
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