Pfizer is working on a COVID-19 vaccine specifically designed to protect against the Omicron variant and expects to have it ready in the coming months. The company is already manufacturing doses and hopes to start distributing them in March. Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla told CNBC’sSquawk Box on Monday (January 10).
Bourla said it is unclear if a new vaccine will be needed to protect against the Omicrona variant and noted that the newly developed vaccine will also offer protection against other variants as well. He said he hopes that the vaccine will also provide better protection against infections from the mutated strain of COVID and not just severe cases and hospitalizations.
“The hope is that we will achieve something that will have way, way better protection particularly against infections, because the protection against the hospitalizations and the severe disease — it is reasonable right now, with the current vaccines as long as you are having let’s say the third dose,” Bourla explained.
Bourla’s comments come after a recent study found that a two-dose course of currently authorized COVID mRNA vaccines does not spur the production of enough antibodies to fight off an infection from the Omicron variant, though they do provide ample protection against severe cases and hospitalizations.
The study found that a booster dose of Pfizer or Moderna’s vaccines does provide “potent” protection against the new variant.
“Even if antibodies can’t keep us from getting infected with omicron, other aspects of the immune response may keep us from becoming very sick,” said Alejandro Balazs, who investigates how to engineer immunity against infectious diseases at the Ragon Institute and is the paper’s senior author.