The data showed a third dose of the vaccine increases neutralizing antibodies by 25-fold compared with two doses, strengthening the case for and need for booster shots.
The preliminary data suggest three doses provide a similar level of antibodies as is observed after two doses against other variants that emerged before Omicron, the companies said.
Two vaccine doses showed a 25-fold reduction in neutralizing antibodies against Omicron compared with other variants, which they said suggested two doses “may not be sufficient” protection.
“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,” Pfizer (ticker: PFE) CEO Albert Bourla said in a statement.
The companies added that the development of an Omicron-specific vaccine was progressing and is expected to be available by March 2022, if such an adaptation ends up being needed.
“The takeaways from Pfizer’s update underscore our belief that the durability of Pfizer’s vaccine sales for Covid-19 remain underappreciated by the Street,” Cantor Fitzgerald analysts said. They rate the stock as Overweight with a target price of $61, implying an 18% upside to Tuesday’s closing price.
Another study, published late Tuesday, suggested that Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine offers partial protection against the Omicron variant.
The small South African laboratory-based study suggested that the variant escapes antibody immunity induced by the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine but that “considerable immunity” is retained.
“It is likely that lesser vaccine-induced protection against infection and disease would be the result,” said Africa Health Research Institute’s executive director, Prof. Willem Hanekom.
“Importantly most vaccinologists agree that the current vaccines will still protect against severe disease and death in the face of Omicron infection,” he added. The study was small, including blood samples from just 12 participants, but it is the first scientific data into the efficacy of vaccines against the Omicron variant.
The loss of immune protection is “robust but not complete,” head of research Alex Sigal said, adding that a good booster shot would decrease the risk of infection, especially of more severe disease.
The study concluded that previous infection followed by vaccination of booster was likely to provide protection.
It has been a volatile couple of weeks for Covid-19 vaccine makers, as investors battle to assess the impact of the Omicron variant while waiting for answers to crucial questions.
Moderna (MRNA), Pfizer and Novavax (NVAX) were among the sharpest fallers in U.S. premarket trading on Wednesday. That is after plunging Monday and rallying on Tuesday. But Pfizer stock reversed course following the study results and was trading 0.4% higher.
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