The First Study Measuring The Effectiveness Of Pfizer’s COVID Vaccine Against Omicron Is Here

Omicron appears to reduce the effectiveness of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in laboratory tests, but it also suggests that patients who have gotten a booster dose may be better protected.

The study, which was published online on Tuesday and reported by The New York Times, discovered that antibodies produced by vaccinated people were far less effective than other variants of the coronavirus at preventing the Omicron type from infecting cells.

The findings were concerning, but not alarming, according to scientists. The findings show that those who have been vaccinated may be prone to Omicron infections, which are rising quickly in South Africa and have now spread to dozens of nations across the world.

A New York woman receives a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination.
(Mark Lennihan/AP Photo

Alex Sigal of the Africa Health Research Institute led a team of researchers who compared 14 blood samples from 12 persons to a live sample of the Omicron type. Six of the 12 patients had previously been infected and had been immunised.

In comparison to the original version of the virus, the scientists discovered an approximately 40-fold reduction in the amounts of neutralising antibodies, the virus-fighting proteins that play a critical part in our immune response.

According to Sigal on Twitter, Omicron did not totally evade vaccine protection, indicating that there is still a benefit to being vaccinated against this new variety.

A group of researchers from Sweden’s Karolinska Institutet released their own findings shortly after Sigal presented his team’s findings, which suggested a significant but less dramatic reduction in antibody levels. Across 17 blood samples, the Karolinska researchers discovered a seven-fold drop.

They noticed that the impact of Omicron differed substantially amongst samples, thus they employed a lab-made version of the virus instead of the live virus. The findings, according to the group’s lead researcher, “make Omicron “certainly worse than Delta, but, again, not as extreme as we expected.”

A queue at a vaccination site in D.C. on Nov. 29. (Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)

BioNTech and Pfizer are the first COVID vaccine makers to provide an official update on their vaccine’s efficacy against Omicron. The Omicron variant was neutralised nearly as well as two doses neutralised the original virus found in China in blood samples taken about a month after the third shot.

The Omicron variant, which was initially discovered in southern Africa and Hong Kong last month, has sparked global concern about another outbreak. Cases have already been documented in the United States and throughout Europe.

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