Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla spoke during JPMorgan’s healthcare conference this week and the expert argued that while having your double dose of the vaccine and the booster can certainly help in preventing critical illness and hospitalization from COVID-19, it may not be enough to fight off the highly transmissible Omicron variant.
“The two doses, they’re not enough for Omicron,” Bourla said, according to CNBC. “The third dose of the current vaccine is providing quite good protection against deaths, and decent protection against hospitalizations.” The health official shared that there’s still some uncertainy as to how long the booster shot actually protects against the disease.
Bourla explained that the strain is constantly mutating and that its powerful proteins could possibly evade some of the protection offered by Pfizer’s current vaccines.
“We have seen with a second dose very clearly that the first thing that we lost was the protection against infections,” he continued. “But then two months later, what used to be very strong in hospitalization also went down. And I think this is what everybody’s worried about.”
While speaking with CNBC on Jan.11, Bourla revealed that Pfizer is currently working on an Omicron-specific vaccine that will help to provide greater protection against the strain, however, he admitted that there’s still not enough research quite yet to support the need for a fourth booster.
“We are doing everything we can to stay ahead of the virus. Let me start with, I don’t know if there is a need for a fourth booster. That’s something that needs to be tested. I know these are already started, some of these experiments…” he explained. “Also, we are working on a new version of our vaccine, a version that will be effective against Omicron as well. It’s not that it won’t be effective against the other variants, but against Omicron as well. And the hope is that we will achieve something that will have way, way better protection, particularly against infections.”
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Pfizer hopes that the new vaccine will be ready and available by March and the company has already begun the manufacturing process.
“I don’t know if we will need it. I don’t know if and how it will be used. But it will be ready,” Bourla added.
Recently, scientists out of Britain discovered that the Omicron variant may have “peaked” across the country and could likely do the same in the U.S., which would mean that we would start to see cases begin to decline. Ali Mokdad, a professor of health metrics sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle told the Associated Press that the Omicron variant has become so volatile that it may have run out of people to infect.
“It’s going to come down as fast as it went up,” he said. Mokdad and his team of experts at the University Of Washington used a number of scientific calculations to predict that the number of daily reported cases in the U.S. could hit 1.2 million by Jan. 19 “simply because everybody who could be infected will be infected.” He added that the true number of infections currently sits at 6 million. This number includes people who have never been tested.
As MADAMNOIRE previously reported, back in December 2021, Pfizer and BioNTech announced that their vaccine booster showed a strong impact in preventing hospitalization from the Omicron variant and other strains of the virus. The company said that recipients who received a third dose of the Pfizer vaccine increased their antibody levels 25-fold, according to their website.
As for Moderna, the drug company announced that its standard dose of 50-micrograms of the preventative shot increased antibody levels roughly by 37-fold. A full dose of 100-micrograms was found to be even more powerful, with antibody levels jumping to around 83-fold compared to “pre-boost levels“.
A recent study from the U.K.’s Health Security Agency reported that Pfizer’s and Moderna’s vaccine, overall, provides 10 percent efficacy against a “symptomatic infection from Omicron 20 weeks after the second dose,” NBC noted. Booster shots were found to be “75 percent effective” against preventing infection from the strain.
Despite the conflicting reports, the science still points in a positive direction. Getting your vaccine is the best way to protect against COVID-19. Get those jabs and stay healthy this year family!