Pfizer Inc (NYSE:PFE) CEO Albert Bourla said “The two doses, they’re not enough for Omicron,” in reference to the efficacy of the company’s vaccine against COVID-19. He further added that the ability of the initial two-injection to prevent hospitalization dose has slightly waned.
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As reported by CNBC, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said the two shots by the pharmaceutical giant are not enough to prevent Omicron. At a J.P. Morgan’s healthcare conference, he underlined the importance of a third dose to improve people’s chances against the variant.
“The two doses, they’re not enough for omicron,” he said. “The third dose of the current vaccine is providing quite good protection against deaths, and decent protection against hospitalizations.”
Bourla also conceded that Omicron is a tougher foe since its dozen mutations are harder to target, and give it the ability to dodge the protection given by the first two shots.
“We have seen with a second dose very clearly that the first thing that we lost was the protection against infections. But then two months later, what used to be very strong in hospitalization also went down. And I think this is what everybody’s worried about.”
According to real-world data obtained by the U.K. Health Security Agency, the efficacy at preventing hospitalization 25 weeks after the last of the two shots is 52%.
Similar data also reveal that two Pfizer and Moderna Inc (NASDAQ:MRNA) jabs are just around 20% effective at preventing Omicron 20 weeks after the second shot.
On the other hand, a booster dose can prevent symptomatic illness with a 75% efficacy and prevent hospitalization in 88% of cases. Still, the Pfizer CEO asserted it was difficult to determine for how long a booster shot can protect against the virus.
According to the same U.K. data, a third dose is only 40% to 50% effective against infection 10 weeks after receiving the jab.
In relation to the findings, Bourla said, “The question mark, it is how long that protection lasts with the third dose.”
He also said that more tests are needed to determine whether a fourth shot is necessary, as the company also announced it would be able to roll out an Omicron-specific vaccine in March.