Pfizer begins testing an omicron-specific COVID-19 vaccine

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Pfizer and BioNTech announced on Tuesday that they have begun a clinical trial to evaluate a new, omicron-specific vaccine for COVID-19. People who are vaccinated and boosted appear to be better protected against severe disease and hospitalization from omicron, but the highly contagious variant has still led to breakthrough cases and a surge in overall infections.

Kathrin U. Jansen, Pfizer’s senior vice president and head of vaccine research and development, said in a statement: “While current research and real-world data show that boosters continue to provide a high level of protection against severe disease and hospitalization with Omicron, we recognize the need to be prepared in the event this protection wanes over time and to potentially help address Omicron and new variants in the future.”

The study will include over 1,000 participants divided into three groups — One group includes people who have already received two doses of the current Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and will also receive the omicron vaccine;  another group includes those with three doses of the current Pfizer vaccine who will also get the omicron vaccine; and the third group includes unvaccinated people who will receive three shots of the omicron vaccine.

Currently, the Food and Drug Administration authorized the current Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use in people ages 5 and older. The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are authorized for adults.

Editorial credit: Marco Lazzarini / Shutterstock.com

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