The American pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech announced that a third dose of their coronavirus jab offers strong protection against the omicron variant, according to initial study results published Wednesday.
Lab tests revealed a 25-fold increase in antibody levels, the firm said. However, the news came with the caveat that the initial two doses of the vaccine may not be enough to prevent infection with the highly transmissable variant.
“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,” Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said in a statement.
Blood samples taken a month after a booster showed people harbored levels of omicron-neutralizing antibodies that were similar to amounts proven protective against earlier variants after two doses.
Pfizer’s study still needs to undergo scientific review, but it marks the first concrete information from a vaccine manufacturer about booster effectiveness and the omicron variant.
There is still much that is unknown about omicron, but it has been detected in 57 countries and is thought to be behind an uptick in cases in the United States and several European countries.