Two vaccine doses may NOT be enough to protect against Omicron coronavirus variant, says Pfizer

0 38

Pfizer finds that third shot is needed to protect from Omicron 

The pharma giant Pfizer revealed data Wednesday showing that its two-dose Covid vaccine regimen may not be effective at preventing infection from the Omicron variant

Data published by AHRI on Tuesday found that the jab had 41 times less antibodies effective against Omicron as it had against over variants

Pfizer reports that a booster dose increases Omicron-fighting antibodies 25-fold when compared to only receiving the two-shots

Officials could not say whether the jab is still effective at preventing severe Covid infection

The Pfizer vaccine is the most popular in the U.S., having been administered over 275 million times to fully vaccinate more than 110 million people 

Lab studies reveal that two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine may not provide enough protection against the Omicron coronavirus variant, the pharmaceutical company revealed. 

Pfizer said Wednesday that a third shot is required for a person to have enough antibodies to prevent infection from the new variant.

The news is revealed after preliminary data from the African Health Research Institute (AHRI) released Tuesday showed that those who had received two doses of the Pfizer vaccine had 41 times less antibodies with the ability to fight Omicron than they had for other variants.

Pfizer said the booster dose increases those antibody levels 25-fold.

The New York City based company reports that people who have only received two shots of the vaccine may still have some protection from severe symptoms of the virus, though are at risk of infection.  

‘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,’ Albert Bourla, CEO of Pfizer, said in a statement.

‘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.’ 

Pfizer’s vaccine is the most commonly used in American so far, fully vaccinating over 110 million people, and being used 23 million times as a booster dose. 

The news comes as the number of countries which have detected a case of the variant within its borders increases to around 50, with 1,700 Omicron cases confirmed worldwide.

In the U.S., 20 states have sequenced a combined 55 cases of the variant, with New York leading the way with 14.

Yesterday, the nation’s top infectious disease expert and leader of the U.S. Covid response, Dr Anthony Fauci, said that he believed the new variant was highly transmissible, but that infection from Omicron was not more severe than that of the Delta variant.

Meanwhile in the UK, Prime Minister Boris Johnson instituted strict orders to combat the spread of Omicron, including work from home orders, mask mandates and contact tracing initiatives.

The UK leads the world in sequenced Omicron cases, with more than 500 detected, and Johnson said the true number could be upwards of 10,000 cases.

In South Africa, where the variant was first detected last month, cases and hospitalizations continue to rise, especially in the Gauteng province where the variant was first detected. 

Moderna, one of Pfizer’s major rivals in the global vaccine rollout, has previously laid out plans to have a booster shot tailored to the new variant available as early as March. 

It has yet to respond to the data unveiled by Pfizer this morning, or confirm if its jab also requires a booster dose to remain effective.

Johnson and Johnson is also yet to confirm if its vaccine is still effective against the variant. 

Lab studies reveal that two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine may not provide enough protection against the Omicron coronavirus variant, the medical company revealed. Receiving a third dose of the jab could increase antibody levels 25-fold, though

An African research team found that the Pfizer vaccine provided 40 times less Covid antibodies to fight against the Omicron strain that it does against other variants, hinting that it may be less effective at preventing infection

An African research team found that the Pfizer vaccine provided 40 times less Covid antibodies to fight against the Omicron strain that it does against other variants, hinting that it may be less effective at preventing infection

The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is the most commonly used shot in America, having been adminsitered 275 million times to fully vaccinated more than 110 million people, according to the CDC. Pictured: A man in Mesquite, Texas, receives a shot of a COVID-19 vaccine on November 30

The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is the most commonly used shot in America, having been adminsitered 275 million times to fully vaccinated more than 110 million people, according to the CDC. Pictured: A man in Mesquite, Texas, receives a shot of a COVID-19 vaccine on November 30

Dr Ugar Sahin, co-founder of BioNTech, who develops the vaccine being distributed by Pfizer, explained last month that the company’s vaccine provides two layers of protection.

The first is the prevention of infection, where antibodies within a person react to the detection of the virus and respond by killing it before it can infect and replicate in cells.

A second layer of protection boosts the immune response against cells if they do become infected, and prevent a person from suffering more severe case.

The findings unveiled by Pfizer affect the first layer of protection, and the company is yet to reveal if the two-shot vaccine has a diminished ability to prevent severe infection as well. 

Pfizer’s jab is the most commonly used vaccine in the U.S., and in many countries around the world, having been adminsitered over 275 million times to fully vaccinate over 110 million Americans, according to official data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Sahin said on November 30 that initial findings had his team hopeful that the second layer of protection remained strong. 

‘If a virus achieves immune escape, it achieves it against antibodies, but there is the second level of immune response that protects from severe disease – the T-cells,’ he said.

‘Even as an escape variant, the virus will hardly be able to completely evade the T-cells.’

On Wednesday, he said that campaigns to further rollout Covid booster shots would be needed around the world to stop transmission of the new variant.

‘Our preliminary, first dataset indicate that a third dose could still offer a sufficient level of protection from disease of any severity caused by the Omicron variant,’ said Sahin said in a statement. 

‘Broad vaccination and booster campaigns around the world could help us to better protect people everywhere and to get through the winter season. 

‘We continue to work on an adapted vaccine which, we believe, will help to induce a high level of protection against Omicron-induced COVID-19 disease as well as a prolonged protection compared to the current vaccine.’  

On Tuesday, AHRI published a pre-print study that showed the vaccine had a heavily diminished capacity of preventing infection from the virus.

The study, which is still pending peer review, gathered blood samples from 12 people who were fully vaccinated with the Pfizer shot, but had not yet received their booster.

Researchers found that, on average, the study subjects had 41 times less antibodies capable of fighting Omicron as they did against other variants – showing that the variant likely does have the ability to evade some vaccine protections.

Findings published by AHRI do not account for any additional protection provided by the Pfizer booster, though.

It has been feared that Omicron could circumvent vaccine protection since the moment it was discovered.

Covid booster jabs ARE likely to protect against Omicron, scientists say

Covid booster vaccines are likely to offer good protection against the Omicron variant, British experts behind a major new study say — in the first glimmer of hope since the emergence of the super-strain last week. 

The body’s T-cell immune response after a third dose suggests they will continue to protect against hospitalization and death from the new strain, according to the Government-funded trial. 

It also supports the UK’s decision to use Pfizer or Moderna as boosters, with mRNA jabs turbocharging antibody and T-cell responses the most.

T-cells are thought to provide longer lasting and broader protection than antibodies which deliver an initial higher boost of protection but also see that defense fade faster over time.   

Professor Saul Faust, trial lead and director of the NIHR Clinical Research Facility at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, said: ‘Even though we don’t properly understand its relation to long-term immunity, the T cell data is showing us that it does seem to be broader against all the variant strains, which gives us hope that a variant strain of the virus might be able to be handled, certainly for hospitalization and death if not prevention of infection, by the current vaccines,’ Professor Faust said.

He said T cell response was not just focused on the spike protein but ‘are recognizing a much broader range of antigens that might… be common to all of the variants.’

Asked specifically about Omicron, he said: ‘Our hope as scientists is that protection against hospitalization and death will remain intact.’ 

Samples from the study have now been passed to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) to look at how well the Omicron variant can be neutralized by vaccines. 

Late last month, South African officials detected the new strain in 77 people – many of which were fully vaccinated.

When the sequence was further analyzed, they found that it had more than 50 mutations, including more than 30 on its spike protein.

Dr Chris Thompson, an immunologist at Loyola University Maryland told DailyMail.com last month that since the existing crop of Covid vaccines targets the spike protein, Omicron’s mutations potentially give it the ability to avoid those protections.

In the two weeks since the strain’s discovery, it has managed to spread around the world.

The variant was first sequenced in the U.S. on December 1 in San Francisco.

The infected person had recently traveled to South Africa and tested positive for Covid on November 22.

In the time since, 55 cases of Omicron have been confirmed in the U.S., with health officials warning that the variant is likely circulating undetected at a rate faster than sequencing can keep up with.

Florida and Illinois both recorded their first cases of Omicron overnight on Wednesday, bringing the total number of states with a confirmed case of the variant up to 20.

President Biden responded to the new threat by banning travel into the U.S. from eight countries, including South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi last month.

The move was criticized by some as punishing African nations for sounding the alarm about the new variant. 

Cases of the variant detected in the U.S. so far have been generally mild, though, a trend that is also being reported by South African officials.

A Minnesota man who became the second confirmed Omicron patient in the U.S., for example, said earlier this week that he did not feel anything more than just minor symptoms.

Peter McGinn, 30, of Minneapolis, had traveled to New York to attend Anime NYC in lower Manhattan in mid-November.

He attended the 53,000-strong anime convention at the Javits Center with 35 friends. 

McGinn told ABC this week that he was fully vaccinated, and had received his booster shot, but decided to get a Covid test after someone else in his friend group caught the virus.

He tested positive, and further sequencing found he had contracted the Omicron variant.

The man said he suffered a slight runny nose and a small cough, though symptoms were overall mild and resolved quickly. 

‘I do believe that the booster and getting the vaccine helps reduce the symptoms that I had,’ he said.

‘And I would definitely recommend anybody who, when they can, get the booster.’

He told ABC that he now feels fine and quickly recovered from Covid.

South Africa (green) has a much lower vaccination rate than many of its peers, with less than 30% of the nation's residents being fully vaccinated

Overall, the Covid situation in the U.S. is trending in the wrong direction. 

The nation is averaging almost 120,000 new cases of the virus every day, the highest mark since late September, when the Delta-fueled Covid wave was slowing down.

More than 60,000 Americans are hospitalized due to complications caused by the virus as well, according to officials, with reports of an increase of fully vaccinated people requiring hospital treatment.

On Tuesday, the U.S. reached a milestone in its Covid vaccine rollout, with 60 percent of the population now being fully vaccinated against the virus. 

Things are also trending in the wrong direction in the UK.

The nation recorded 45,000 new Covid cases in 24 hours on Tuesday, a jump of 15 percent from 39,000 cases the previous week.

More Omicron cases have also been recorded in the UK than anywhere else in the world, with 440 confirmed sequences of the new strain as of Wednesday morning.

What are the new Covid rules in England?

Boris Johnson announced this evening that the Government is implementing its Covid Plan B. 

It means: 

WFH

The return of work from home guidance. People will be told to work from home in England from Monday if they are able to.

Face mask

Face masks will be made compulsory in most public indoor venues including in cinemas and theatres from this Friday. They will not be required in pubs, restaurants and gyms.

Vaccine passports 

The NHS Covid pass will be compulsory to gain access to nightclubs and other large venues where large crowds gather. 

This will apply to all unseated indoor venues with more than 500 people, unseated outdoor venues with more than 4,000 people and any venue with more than 10,000 people. 

Two vaccine doses will be treated as fully-vaccinated but this will be kept under review because of the booster programme. 

A negative lateral flow test will also be sufficient. 

This requirement will be rolled out in one week’s time to give businesses time to prepare. 

Contact testing 

Contacts of Omicron cases will be told to take daily coronavirus tests instead of having to self-isolate. They will have to quarantine if they test positive.    

The UK government has taken drastic measures in the wake of the Omicron variant’s arrival in the county. 

On Wednesday, the Prime Minister announced new guidelines to prevent the spread of the new variant.

New mandates include a work from home order for all Britons with jobs that would allow that to be possible.

Face masks will now be required in many indoor public areas, though places like gyms, restaurants and bars will be exempt from the order.

People determined to be exposed to an Omicron patient will be required to test for the virus daily, and will be forced to quarantine if they have a positive test.

Some events – both indoor and outdoor – will now require attendees to show proof of vaccination. 

Johnson is also trying to supercharge the country’s vaccine booster rollout as early data shows many of those being infected are already fully vaccinated. 

A study performed by British experts also found that the booster shots increase the T-cell response to the variant – the second level of protection Sahin mentioned – and could help prevent severe infection in breakthrough cases.

Around 70 percent of Britons are already fully vaccinated against Covid. 

Officials in the UK are not letting their guard down, though, and warn that even if Omicron cases are more mild than cases of the Delta variant, hospitals in the nation may be put under a lot of stress this winter due to a surge in cases. 

Denmark has also emerged as a leader in sequenced Omicron cases, with the small Nordic nation having sequenced nearly 400 cases of the variant.

A Christmas lunch event in the Viborg region, attended by 150 students on November 27 from two local high schools, has been tied to an outbreak of at least 64 Omicron cases. 

More than 1,000 people have been deemed close contacts to those infected at the event, and it is believed to be among the largest outbreaks of the variant detected so far.

Covid cases in Denmark have jumped 20 percent in the past two weeks, from around 4,000 on November 24, before the event took place, to 5,000 now a week into December.

Another outbreak of the variant may have occurred at a holiday party held by Scatec, a Norweigan energy company. 

The Oslo based company held a Christmas party in Cape Town, South Africa, in November, bringing dozens of employees to the nation before the discovery of the new strain.

Now, 70 employees of the company have been tested positive for Covid in the weeks since, with 50 others outside the company who were present at the same restaurant the party was held at also testing positive.

Only 13 of the 120 cases have been sequenced as a confirmed Omicron case, though it is believed that all the related cases may be of the new strain.

Denmark high school Christmas lunch leads to Omicron surge 

A Christmas lunch event in the Viborg region of Denmark has been tied to an Omicron variant outbreak of at lest 64 cases on November 27

The lunch was attended by 150 students from two high schools

After the event, 64 people tested positive for Covid, and all were sequenced to have the Omicron variant

More than 1,000 people in the area have been deemed close contacts to the infected 

Denmark is among the world leaders in sequenced Omicron cases, with 398 as of Wednesday morning

Covid cases in the Nordic nation have jumped 20 percent over the past two weeks 

One Scatec staffer is believed to be ‘patient zero’ with the related infections all being tied back to them.

Those who were not a part of the party but were infected are believed to have contracted the virus during a period after the festivities where Scatec employees began to mingle with others in the bar.

While it often takes time for serious Covid infection to develop, it has already been 12 days since the Oslo outbreak was first found, and there has still yet to be any serious cases – a positive sign.

The event turned into a warning call for many in Europe, as all the staffers were fully vaccinated yet the variant was still able to cause breakthrough infections in all of them.

Cases in Norway have doubled since the event in mid-November reaching 3,800 new cases every day in the Nordic nation as of Wednesday morning. 

In South Africa, where the variant was first discovered, cases are spiking as well.

New daily cases have jumped from around 3,000 per day to 11,000 per day in a matter of two weeks, a near four-fold increase.

In Gauteng, the province where the first Omicron cases were sequenced, more than 2,000 Covid related hospitalizations were recorded last week, a doubling from the 865 recorded the week before – and six fold increase from the 321 hospitalizations only two weeks ago.

Despite this, local officials still say that cases of Omicron are relatively minor, though they can not explain the surge in hospitalizations, and why so many of those currently suffering sever cases of the virus are so young.

‘We are hoping that in the coming weeks we’ll be able to also give reasons for why this particular cohort of patient is having increased infections,’ said Dr Ntsakisi Maluleke, a Gauteng health official, said during a news briefing last Friday.

President Cyril Ramaphosa said earlier this week that around one in every four Covid tests being adminsitered in South Africa are coming back positive, only weeks after the positivity rate was around two percent. 

South Africa has a relatively low vaccination rate when compared to its American and European peers, though, with only around 25 percent of the population being fully vaccinated.  

source

You might also like
Leave A Reply

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More