BioNTech and Pfizer said on Wednesday a three-shot course of their COVID-19 vaccine was able to neutralise the new Omicron variant in a laboratory test and they could deliver an Omicron-based vaccine in March 2022 if needed.
In the first official statement from vaccine manufacturers on the likely efficacy of their shot against Omicron, BioNTech and Pfizer said that two vaccine doses resulted in significantly lower neutralising antibodies but that a third dose of their vaccine increased the neutralising antibodies by a factor of 25.
Blood obtained from people that had their third booster shot a month ago neutralised the Omicron variant about as effectively as blood after two doses fought off the original virus first identified in China.
“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,” Pfizer boss Albert Bourla said in the statement.
Though the necessity remains unclear, the companies said they would continue their effort to bring an Omicron-specific COVID-19 vaccine to market, which they kick-started when the new lineage first raised global concern among scientists on 15 November.