Pfizer To Test Third Version Vaccine On South African Strain

In this file photo taken on November 23, 2020 is pictured a bottle reading “Vaccine Covid-19” next to US pharmaceutical company Pfizer and German biotechnology company BioNTech logos on November 23, 2020.
JOEL SAGET / AFP

 

Pfizer and BioNTech said Thursday they are studying adding a third dose to their vaccine regime and testing a new version targeting the South African variant of the coronavirus.

As countries around the world rush to vaccinate people, concerns have risen that more transmissible variants such as the one first detected in South Africa or another in Britain are more resistant to existing vaccines.

In one study, the US and German pharmaceutical firms said they would look at what happens when people are given a third dose of their two-shot vaccine, six to 12 months after the booster.

They said in a statement they are also talking to regulators about testing a modified version of their original vaccine to address the South African variant known as B.1.351.

“We are taking multiple steps to act decisively and be ready in case a strain becomes resistant to the protection afforded by the vaccine,” Dr. Albert Bourla, Pfizer’s CEO, said in a statement.

The South African variant is considered among the more dangerous of current mutations because it evades some of the blocking action of antibodies that target the older coronavirus strain.

That means people who were infected with the classic strain are more susceptible to reinfection, and research has also shown the variant has partly reduced the protection of the current generation of vaccines.

Moderna, the other company whose vaccine has been approved for emergency use in America, said Wednesday that doses of its new Covid-19 vaccine candidate aimed at the South African coronavirus variant had been shipped to the US National Institutes of Health for testing.

-AFP

BioNTech/Pfizer Say Vaccine Can Stand Warmer Temperatures

A health worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against COVID-19 at Colombia University Clinic in Bogota, on February 18, 2021.
Raul ARBOLEDA / AFP

Germany’s BioNTech and its US partner Pfizer on Friday said tests have shown that their coronavirus vaccine can stand warmer temperatures than initially thought, potentially simplifying the jab’s complex cold-chain logistics.

The companies said they have asked the US Food and Drug Administration to allow for the vaccine to be stored for up to two weeks at minus 25 to minus 15 degrees Celsius (minus 13 to five degrees Fahrenheit), temperatures commonly found in pharmaceutical freezers and refrigerators.

Under the existing guidelines, the BioNTech/Pfizer jab needs to be stored at a frigid minus 80 to minus 60 C until five days before use, a delicate process that requires special ultra-cold containers for shipping and dry ice for storage.

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“If approved, this new storage option would offer pharmacies and vaccination centres greater flexibility in how they manage their vaccine supply,” said Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla in a statement.

The BioNTech/Pfizer jab, based on novel mRNA technology, was the first vaccine against Covid-19 to be approved in the West late last year.

It was soon followed by US firm Moderna’s vaccine, which uses similar technology but can remain stable at minus 20 C for six months and at normal fridge temperature for up to 30 days.

Another approved shot, developed by AstraZeneca/Oxford, uses more traditional vaccine methods and can be stored and shipped at standard fridge temperatures.

BioNTech CEO Ugur Sahin said BioNTech and Pfizer were continuing to work on “new formulations that could make our vaccine even easier to transport and use”.

The firms have also started testing their Covid-19 vaccine on healthy pregnant women.

The trial involves some 4,000 pregnant women in the United States, Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mozambique, South Africa, Britain and Spain.

Those in the US have already received their first dose, BioNTech and Pfizer said earlier this week.

Separately, a study focused on more than 9,000 medical staff at Sheba hospital near Tel Aviv showed that the first dose of the Pfizer vaccination is 85 percent effective against coronavirus infection between two and four weeks after inoculation.

AFP

COVID-19 Vaccine Effective Against UK, South Africa Variants, Say Pfizer-BioNTech

BETHESDA, MARYLAND – DECEMBER 14: SPC Angel Laureano holds a COVID-19 vaccine at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on December 14, 2020 in Bethesda, Maryland. Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller received his first shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, as the biggest vaccination campaign in U.S. history kicked off in an effort to get protection against the COVID-19 pandemic. Manuel Balce Ceneta-Pool/Getty Images/AFP
POOL / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

 

 

Pfizer and BioNTech, makers of a Covid-19 vaccine, said on Thursday that their product is effective against coronavirus variants that have emerged in Britain and South Africa.

In a statement, the two companies said the “small differences” detected in tests comparing the original virus and the recent versions “are unlikely to lead to a significant reduction in the effectiveness of the vaccine”.

While the findings indicated no need for a new vaccine to tackle the new strains, Pfizer and BioNTech said they would respond if there was evidence that the variants could defeat their current vaccine.

They would continue to monitor their vaccine’s “real-world effectiveness”, including against new strains, they said.

“Pfizer and BioNTech believe that the flexibility of BioNTech’s proprietary mRNA vaccine platform is well suited to develop new vaccine variants if required,” they said.

Daily global deaths from Covid-19 topped 18,000 for the first time Wednesday, with vaccines seen as the only real chance of returning to some form of normality.

-AFP