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January 21, 2022

Pfizer booster proves effective against Omicron

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Preliminary study reveals a 25-fold increase in effectiveness from a third vaccine shot.

As fears around Omicron swirl, Pfizer has announced that preliminary laboratory studies suggest that three doses of its Comirnaty vaccine offer effective protection against the new COVID-19 variant.

The early data suggests that a third dose produces a 25-fold increase in the level and presence of neutralising antibodies compared to just two doses. This is comparable to the relative effectiveness of two doses against Alpha, which is considered highly effective.

Pfizer also notes that antibodies recognise at least 80 per cent of the epitopes – the part of the spike protein to which antibodies attach – in the Omicron variant, so two doses may still help lower severe disease symptoms.

In the public statement, Pfizer says it is continuing development of a vaccine that specifically protects against Omicron, which it hopes to have available by March.

‘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 improved with a third dose of our vaccine,’ says Albert Bourla, Pfizer’s chairman and chief executive officer. ‘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.’

‘I would really like to stress that those who are fully vaccinated should also seek a booster when eligible, says Dr Vinod Balasubramaniam, a virologist at the Jeffrey Cheah School of Medicine & Health Sciences at Monash University Malaysia, who was not involved in the study.

‘I think we have good reason to believe that the vaccines are effective, if not as effective, and that with boosters, they’ll be quite effective.’

Preliminary study shows change in antibodies

The preliminary study, which was conducted and funded by BioNTech and Pfizer, included 154 people who received three doses of the Pfizer vaccine. A blood sample was taken from each person one month after receiving the third dose, to assess the level of antibodies present that could potentially combat Omicron.

This was compared to 398 people who received three doses and were assessed for antibody effectiveness against Delta, and a further 155 people who received two doses and were assessed for effectiveness against the original Alpha strain.

The study found that, after three doses, antibodies neutralised the Omicron variant significantly better than after only two doses.

Further samples will be taken to see how this effectiveness lasts over time, as preliminary data needs to be viewed with caution.

‘There is currently little data available to determine the vaccine escape potential of Omicron,’ says Adam Taylor, an emerging viruses researcher at Griffith University, who was not involved in the study.

‘Data that is available is preliminary and lacks thorough scientific review. However, preliminary studies are suggesting that no matter which vaccine you’ve received or whether you’ve previously had covid, all combinations of vaccination or prior infection show a significant reduction in neutralising antibodies against Omicron.

‘Antibody [assessments] are only one measure of vaccine effectiveness. The effectiveness of other arms of the protective immune response against Omicron remain unknown.

‘Monitoring real world data, such as hospitalisations, will reveal the overall effectiveness of vaccination against disease caused by Omicron.’

Pfizer boosters effective in Israel

Pfizer booster shots have already been shown to be effective against the Delta variant, according to real-world data from Israel.

‘The arrival of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, and other variants that will follow, also raises the question of how often boosters will be needed and how effective will this approach be as new variants arise,’ says Roger Lord, a senior lecturer in medical science at Australian Catholic University, who was not involved in the study.

‘The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine does induce a significant amount of neutralising antibody, but further consideration may be needed for a more robust T-cell response. Booster vaccination to raise the level of neutralising antibody certainly helps to keep mortality caused by Delta low, but with new variants of the virus this protection is potentially compromised.

‘The AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, while previously reported to have a lower efficacy than the available mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, does induce a T-cell response, which may give rise to better protection from other COVID-19 variants.’


This article was originally published on Cosmos Magazine and was written by Deborah Devis. Deborah Devis is a science journalist at Cosmos. She has a Bachelor of Liberal Arts and Science (Honours) in biology and philosophy from the University of Sydney, and a PhD in plant molecular genetics from the University of Adelaide.

Published by The Echo in conjunction with Cosmos Magazine.


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6 COMMENTS

  1. 25 x 0 is still 0. I can’t believe people still trust Pfizer that preliminary laboratory studies suggest ….. The jab either works or it doesn’t. What a great business model. Make suggestions about tiny preliminary studies supporting your global experiment and get 4 billion people to take a shot every 3 months for the rest of their life that may or may not protect you from a virus that has 99.7 survival rate. If people are going to continue to swallow this then looks like its time to get shares in Pfizer.

  2. I agree Dean completely!! Ask any profit driven company if three of their product is better than two and guess what the answer would be!!
    Off to buy shares.

  3. Dean has a right to his opinion. Everyone does. They don’t have a right to their own set of facts. Question is, what is any one person’s opinion based on? Just wondering what makes Dean think that Pfizer vax offers 0% protection? That’s what he seems to be saying.
    Vaccines never offer instant protection so “the jab either works or it doesn’t “, is way off the mark Dean.
    Why would someone think that was true?
    No professional scientist/medical researcher would say that. That opinion must either come from an unreliable source or from someone influenced by many unreliable sources. Bit by bit those sources cause someone to think something is true.
    What the latest study about Pfizer says, is that people with a third dose appear to have 25x more antibodies in their bloodstream COMPARED TO TWO dose vaxxers. The study was done by professional medical researchers who follow strict rules about what they say or conclude. It was nt done by some faker on
    YT with 800 000 followers.
    How much better this third dose makes the vaccine (at fighting off Covid ), compared to unvaxxed or double vaxxed., no one knows exactly. But it is a great sign that vaccines will help us get through this, and three doses are better than two and WAY BETTER THAN NONE.
    This may not be an opinion but a FACT- time will tell.
    Dean mentions that “a virus that has 99.7 survival rate”. Sorry you’re wrong Dean .
    Coronavirus Cases: 12th December ’21
    270,011,377
    Deaths: 5,318,327
    This represents 2.19% of cases which means 97.81 % of cases “survive”. A small error but it shows how easy it is to throw numbers around.
    Out of those 97.81% of cases there are around 20 – 30% LONG COVID cases.
    So that means only 60 % of infected people may have no lingering effect or death.
    Out of the 270 000 000 people affected there may be 70 – 80 million people who have died or are suffering LONG COVID.
    Saying Covid is “like getting the flu” ; just UNTRUE.
    As far as shares – go right ahead. The reality is that governments around the world should be funding the research and they have failed us. So if a private company does it (Pfizer, Novavax, Moderna etc) , good luck to them. It’s not a conspiracy, just the economic system governments have created. The scientists who work for those companies obey the strictest rules and don t make up stuff. Everything they do is triple checked outside of their company; it’s called a peer review process – FACT.
    Now for OMICRON; going by UK, US, SA, and EU, it looks like a rough ride coming.
    Omicron numbers in NSW went from 9 on the 13th to 21 cases on the 14th. UK numbers are doubling every 2.5 days. If NSW doubles every 5 days there will be 20 000 cases per day by February in NSW alone………

  4. The latest NSW health estimates released 15th Dec is that we may reach 25 000 per day by mid Jan…… I was wrong on one thing. I said 20 000 based on my calcs…..it appears it may be worse than expected ….see more info from expert geniuses here [in the bubble on Twitter] ….If you can put up with some jargon from Biden’s head of COVID 19 response [Trevor Bedford on Twitter]….

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