Pfizer begins trial for omicron-specific COVID-19 vaccine

Pfizer and BioNTech have started a trial for a vaccine to target the omicron variant of COVID-19.

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CNN said the trials will look at the vaccine’s safety, tolerability and immune response.

BioNTech CEO Ugur Sahin said there’s data that shows that the current vaccine is waning more rapidly compared with how it protected against other variants of the virus, CNBC reported.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that a Pfizer booster dose was 90% effective at preventing omicron hospitalization 14 days after it was given. The U.K. Health Security Agency found that boosters are 75% effective at preventing symptomatic infections from omicron two to three weeks after the booster was given, but that at 10 weeks, they weaken, providing only 45% to 50% protection against symptomatic infection, CNBC reported.

Pfizer will test the shot on up to 1,420 healthy adults between the ages of 18 and 55, with both a primary series and a booster, The Associated Press reported.

One group that has already received the regular Pfizer vaccine will get one or two doses of the omicron-specific vaccine.

A second group who have had three doses of normal Pfizer vaccine will get one dose of either the current variation or the omicron-specific one.

The third group, which will be unvaccinated at the start of the trial, will get three doses of the omicron version.

>>Related: Stealth omicron: Sub-variant of COVID-19 seen in 40 countries

Last month, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said that if a new vaccine would be needed for the omicron variant, it would be available in March, but a spokesperson said the company is already manufacturing the vaccine.

“In the wake of omicron, we are proactively investigating and manufacturing at risk an omicron-based vaccine should it be needed, but we of course need to have results and discussions with health authorities as well as approvals before it would be deployed,” a company spokesperson told CNN.

Bourla said the omicron-specific vaccine will also target other variants, CNBC reported.

Omicron was first discovered two months ago, CNBC reported.

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