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Pfizer’s Updated Booster Targets Omicron Variants, New Data Confirm

Recipients showed ‘a substantial increase’ in their neutralizing antibody response against the two omicron subvariants, BA.5 and BA.5

FRIDAY, Oct. 14, 2022 (HealthDay News) — New trial data show that Pfizer’s updated COVID-19 booster shot is more powerful against omicron subvariants than the original shot, the company announced Thursday.

“These early data suggest that our bivalent vaccine is anticipated to provide better protection against currently circulating variants than the original vaccine and potentially help to curb future surges in cases this winter,” Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said in a company news release.

Blood samples taken from 80 people one week after they received their updated boosters showed “a substantial increase” in their neutralizing antibody response against the two omicron subvariants, BA.5 and BA.5, that now account for 93 percent of all new U.S. COVID-19 cases. The researchers did find that the antibody response in people over 55 was “more limited” when faced with the omicron variants. The company is conducting a similar comparison among younger adults.

Pfizer has also been testing the updated booster in mice. In that research, it found that the new shots provided at least “incremental benefit.” While Moderna, the only other company with an updated COVID-19 booster shot, has released results from its own mouse study, it has not commented on when it will have updated effectiveness data from human clinical trials, CBS News reported.

When the federal government approved the boosters in September, they did so with the hope of getting ahead of a winter surge of the virus. At that time, advisers on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention vaccine advisory panel shared reservations they had about allowing boosters without the data in humans. Still, U.S. Food and Drug Administration officials stressed that other vaccines are tested in the same way.

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