Pfizer-BioNTech begins clinical studies on Omicron-based vaccine

BioNTech, founded by Turkish immigrants to Germany, and its US partner Pfizer on Tuesday announced starting of clinical study “to evaluate safety tolerability and immunogenicity of an Omicron-based vaccine candidate.”

In a statement, the two companies announced the launching of a clinical study saying that it will be carried out on “healthy adults 18 through 55 years of age.”

Noting that the study will have “three cohorts examining different regimens of the current Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine or an Omicron-based vaccine,” a statement also noted the study is part of “ongoing efforts to address Omicron and determine the potential need for variant-based vaccines.”

A statement also included comments by Kathrin Jansen, senior vice president and head of vaccine research and development at Pfizer, saying that “While current research and real-world data show that boosters continue to provide a high level of protection against severe disease and hospitalization with Omicron, 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.”

For his part, Ugur Sahin, CEO and Co-founder of BioNTech, said “Vaccines continue to offer strong protection against severe disease caused by Omicron. Yet, emerging data indicate vaccine-induced protection against infection and mild to moderate disease wanes more rapidly than was observed with prior strains.”

“This study is part of our science-based approach to develop a variant-based vaccine that achieves a similar level of protection against Omicron as it did with earlier variants but with longer duration of protection,” he added.

BioNTech/Pfizer vaccines were the first COVID-19 jabs authorized by the bloc in December 2020.

The jab uses an innovative technique mRNA based on a messenger molecule with instructions to produce a protein from the virus that causes COVID-19 to prepare the body to fight the disease.

​​​​​​​Unlike traditional vaccines, BioNTech/Pfizer does not contain the virus itself.

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