Pfizer is also advancing the development of an Omicron-specific vaccine, with the company expressing "high confidence" that it will be available by March. Pfizer said that three doses of its Comirnaty vaccine will neutralize the Omicron variant, adding that a booster dose will provide the same antibody levels found when two doses were administered against the older strain.
“Although two doses of the vaccine may still offer protection against severe disease caused by the Omicron strain, it’s clear from these preliminary data that protection is improved with a third dose of our vaccine,” said Albert Bourla, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Pfizer. “Ensuring as many people as possible are fully vaccinated with the first two dose series and a booster remains the best course of action to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”
Pfizer shares were marked 0.9% lower in early trading Wednesday to change hands at $51.20 each, a move that would trim the stock'sx-month gain to around 35%.
The Pfizer update followed a series of reports showing mixed success of the drugmaker's coronavirus vaccine against the newly-identified Omicron variant.
An early-stage study from the Africa Health Research Institute in Durban, South Africa, where the variant was first identified last last month, that suggested a booster shot of the vaccine, which Pfizer developed along with its German partner BioNtech (BNTX) - Get BioNTech SE Report, has at least some efficacy against Omicron.
A separate report, however, from University Hospital Frankfurt, showed much lower efficacy against the variant from a three-shot regime when compared to Delta, and barely any measurable defense from the two-dose base.
Omicron's emergence, however, has ignited new demand for booster shots in the United States, with government data showing at least 7 million people receiving an additional dose of either Pfizer, Moderna (MRNA) - Get Moderna, Inc. Report or Johnson & Johnson JNJ last week, the most since the doses were approved earlier this year.