The manufacturers of a coronavirus vaccine used across the world have today confirmed a third dose “neutralises” the Omicron variant.
Pfizer and BioNTech said receiving a booster jab produces similar levels of protection against the virus yielded from two doses of the vaccine.
“Results from an initial laboratory study demonstrating that serum antibodies induced by the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 Vaccine neutralize the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant after three doses,” the companies announced in a trading update this morning.
The update comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to launch this evening the government’s “Plan B” measures in England to curb the spread of Omicron.
Work from home advice is set to be reinstated and people will have to wear masks in a wider range of settings under the new rules.
Albert Bourla, chairman and chief executive of Pfizer, said: “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.”
“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.”
“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 Ugur Sahin, chief executive and co-founder of BioNTech.
“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,” he added.
The results of the study are preliminary.
The companies also said they have “high confidence that if needed they can deliver an Omicron-based vaccine in March 2022”.