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Pfizer/BioNTech say Omicron-based Covid-19 shots improv...

Covid-19

COVID-19

Pfizer/BioNTech say Omicron-based Covid-19 shots improve response vs that variant

A vial of Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine for children 6 months to 5 years old during a vaccination press conference at the Cohen Children's Medical Center at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in the Queens borough of New York, New York, USA, 22 June 2022. EPA-EFE/JUSTIN LANE
By Reuters
27 Jun 2022 0

NEW YORK, June 25 (Reuters) - Pfizer Inc PFE.N and BioNTech SE 22UAy.DE said on Saturday that a booster dose of updated versions of their COVID-19 vaccine, modified specifically to combat the Omicron coronavirus variant, generated a higher immune response against that variant.

Advisors to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are scheduled to meet on Tuesday to discuss whether to update COVID-19 vaccines for the fall. The updated shots are likely to be redesigned to combat the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, experts say.

Pfizer and BioNTech said that 30 and 60 microgram doses of a shot targeting just the BA.1 Omicron subvariant that was circulating last winter elicited a 13.5 and 19.6-fold increase in neutralizing geometric titers against that subvariant. A version of the shot that contained both the redesigned vaccine and their original vaccine elicited a 9.1 and 10.9-fold increase, they said.

The results were from a trial of 1,234 people aged 56 or older. The shots were well-tolerated in participants, the companies said.

They said that early laboratory studies suggest that both Omicron-modified candidates neutralize the Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants that have been circulating more recently, though to a lesser extent than they do for BA.1, with titers approximately 3-fold lowerThe companies say they are continuing to collect data on how well the boosters perform versus the more recently circulating strains.

Moderna Inc MRNA.O has also made a redesigned vaccine targeting the BA.1 Omicron subvariant. The company said its updated vaccine worked well against more recent Omicron subvariants, and that it was moving forward with plans to ask regulators for approval. 

By Michael Erman

(Reporting by Michael ErmanEditing by Nick Zieminski)

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