With COVID-19 cases continuing to hover near record levels, Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) and partner BioNTech SE (NSDQ:BNTX) have launched a clinical trial to test an omicron-based vaccine candidate in adults ages 18 to 55.
The study will enroll 1,420 participants divided into three cohorts.
The first cohort will have already received two doses of the initial Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty vaccine for COVID-19. Members of that cohort will then receive one or two doses of the updated vaccine.
The second cohort, after already receiving three doses of the current Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty vaccine, will get one dose of the omicron-based vaccine.
The third cohort will include vaccine-naïve subjects, which will get three doses of the omicron-specific vaccine.
The omicron variant remains more resistant to vaccines than other SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern.
Pfizer and BioNTech hope the updated vaccine will ultimately offer more effective and longer-lasting protection against the omicron variant.
“Vaccines continue to offer strong protection against severe disease caused by omicron,” BioNTech CEO Ugur Sahin said in a press release. “Yet, emerging data indicate vaccine-induced protection against infection and mild to moderate disease wanes more rapidly than was observed with prior strains.”
Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA) is also working on an omicron-based version of its vaccine. The company anticipates that data from the updated candidate will be ready in March.
Pfizer and BioNTech plan to produce 4 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccine this year. The two companies don’t expect the potentially updated vaccine to change that projection.
PFE shares were up 2.25% to $52.72 in afternoon trading, while BNTX shares were up 6.68% to $161.07.
Filed Under: clinical trials, Drug Discovery, Infectious Disease