Research has been published by Pfizer and BioNTech showing that 3 doses of their coronavirus vaccine is more effective against the omicron variant. It shows that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine BNT162b2 creates more antibodies that are better able to deal with the omicron variant of COVID-19.
The research published in the journal Science used a small study of just 51 individuals who had either 2 or 3 doses of the vaccine. The blood serum data was evaluated for antibodies and their properties against the live virus.
The study showed that antibodies contained in the blood serum, that has been triggered by the Pfizer vaccine, were effective at neutralizing the omicron variant after 3 vaccine doses.
The study also indicated that 2 vaccine doses are not effective at completely protecting against the omicron variant.
Despite that, the study does show that 2 vaccinations with the Pfizer jab do provide protection against severe disease. It found that 85% of epitopes within the spike protein recognized by the CD8+ T cells were not changed through mutations present in omicron.
A pseudovirus neutralization test was used on the blood serum of the 51 participants. A live virus laboratory study was also conducted by the University of Texas.
Researchers reviewed for sets of data of blood serum taken from participants. The first set of data came from 20 participants collected between 2 and 4 weeks after they received their second dose of the vaccine.
The second set of data came from 22 participants collected on the day the third dose, or booster, was administered. The third and fourth sets of data were from 1 and 4 months after the booster vaccination.
The study didn’t look at other causes of immunity, however. They did not look at T cell or antibody immunity already present in the participants.
The study showed that blood serum taken one month after the third dose offered a 22 times increase in protection against omicron compared to before the third dose.
Lasting Protection for Omicron Coronavirus?
The study also showed that protection wanes over time. Data revealed that the difference between 1 and 4 months after the third dose is a drop of 2 times the protection for omicron.
All blood serum samples did show that omicron was effectively neutralized after 4 months following vaccination with a booster.
This appears to show that protection against omicron with 3 doses is similar to protection offered after 2 doses to previous variants of the coronavirus.
Both Pfizer and BioNTech are continuing research on their booster program. They hope that this will continue to ensure that their vaccine offers the expected protection.
They are going to evaluate the efficacy of a 4th dose of both the current vaccine and an omicron specific version. This will mean more tests in a clinical setting with the hope of creating a high degree of protection in the coming months.
Pfizer and BioNTech have previously stated that they expect to manufacture around 4 billion doses of their vaccine in 2022. Whether this will be the current vaccine or a modified version, is unlikely to change the numbers expected.