Stronger immune response detected: Biontech's new omicron vaccines work

The number of infections in Germany is increasing, and concern about new sub-variants of the corona virus is growing.

Stronger immune response detected: Biontech's new omicron vaccines work

The number of infections in Germany is increasing, and concern about new sub-variants of the corona virus is growing. Vaccination still seems to be the best protection: two candidates from Biontech and Pfizer are convincing in a first study.

The Mainz-based pharmaceutical company Biontech and its US partner Pfizer say they have developed an effective vaccine against the new variants of the corona virus. A booster vaccination with the vaccine candidates, which were adapted to the Omicron variants BA.4 and BA.5, triggered a much stronger immune reaction than the original corona vaccine, both companies announced based on the first study results. The data on safety, tolerability and effectiveness are positive.

"We believe we have two very strong omicron candidates," Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said in a statement. He and Biontech boss Ugur Sahin announce that they will make the results of the study available to science and regulatory authorities in order to be able to bring an omicron booster to market as quickly as possible. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is planning a meeting with outside experts next Tuesday to discuss the best composition for the fall booster vaccine.

According to the data, the booster, which was only adapted to the omicron variant BA.1, increased the number of virus-neutralizing antibodies by a factor of 13.5 at a dose of 30 micrograms and by a factor of 19.6 at a dose of 60 micrograms. Another vaccine candidate, which is a combination of Biontech's original vaccine Comirnaty and a vaccine targeted against the BA.1 variant spike protein, resulted in a 9.1- and 10.9-fold increase, respectively. The results come from a study of 1,234 people aged 56 and over. The vaccinations were well tolerated by the participants.

The data suggest that both adapted omicron candidates neutralize the recently predominant BA.4 and BA.5 variants, albeit to a lesser extent than BA.1, the companies said. Biontech and Pfizer want to collect more data on how well the boosters work against the variants that have been circulating lately.

The US biotech group Moderna had already published data on its omicron booster. Accordingly, this also performed well against newer omicron subvariants and achieved a strong immune reaction. Moderna plans to submit applications to regulators in the coming weeks to seek approval of the vaccine for the fall season.

Concern is currently increasing about new coronavirus variants - the number of infections in Germany and many other countries has risen again. The number of known infections recently grew by 89,336 to almost 27.8 million, according to data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). The number of deaths increases by 84 to 140,734. The seven-day incidence is just under 633.

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