Pfizer, BioNTech Launch Trials for Omicron-Specific COVID-19 Vaccine

Pfizer and BioNTech announced on Tuesday that they have started conducting clinical trials for a reformulated COVID-19 vaccine that targets the Omicron variant of the virus.

While data has shown boosters to be effective against severe cases of COVID-19 caused by the Omicron variant, Pfizer’s head of vaccine research Kathrin Jansen said “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 companies said that they began enrolling adults ages 18 to 55 in the U.S. and South Africa to examine the vaccine’s effect, and that one subject had received the shot.

The clinical trials will evaluate up to 1,420 participants across three cohorts—one group will receive two doses of the companies’ original COVID-19 vaccine, another will receive the same two doses but with a booster shot, and the last will receive the Omicron-based jab.

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said earlier this month that the drugmakers will have a COVID-19 vaccine that targets the Omicron variant, along with other circulating mutations of the virus.

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