Pfizer and Biontech announced today that they expect to have a vaccine for the Omicron variant of Covid-19 by March 2022 if necessary to increase the level and duration of protection over it current vaccine.
The companies noted however that according to preliminary laboratory studies a third booster shot of its current vaccine neutralizes the new variant which has roiled the markets since its discovery in South Africa in November.
“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.
Meanwhile early reports from South Africa suggest that the variant has had little effect on the mortality rate in Gauteng province, the epicenter of the Omicron outbreak, despite a significant rise in the number of infections. Fatalities kept trending downwards through at the beginning of December despite explosive growth of the case rate from below 5 per 100,000 in the beginning of October to above 30 per 100,000 in the December.
“A significant early finding in this analysis is the much shorter average length of stay of 2.8 days for SARS-CoV-2 positive patients admitted to the COVID wards over the last two weeks compared to an average length of stay of 8.5 days for the past 18 months,” noted the latest report from the South African Medical Research Council.
By Feike de Jong