The case for boosters has gained ground amidst the surge in COVID-19 infections over the past month.
BioNTech CEO Özlem Türeci recently recommended that health officials administer a third dose six to 12 months after the second dose to “maintain the highest level of protection.”
Pfizer CEO Dr. Albert Bourla has made similar recommendations.
Pfizer and BioNTech are working together on developing variant-specific vaccines, including one for Delta, but Türeci recently said that their current vaccine would be an effective booster.
A Pfizer spokesperson says the company can “develop and produce a tailor-made vaccine against that [Delta] variant in approximately 100 days after a decision to do so, subject to regulatory approval.”
In its most recent earnings presentation, Pfizer released early data concluding that a third dose of its COVID-19 vaccine led to a substantial increase in SARS-CoV-2 neutralization titers. For the wild-type virus, titers increased more than five to eightfold. For the Delta variant, neutralization titers increased more than fivefold for those 18 to 55 and 11 fold for those 65 to 86.
Moderna has an investigational vaccine known as mRNA-1273.35 in its pipeline based on the SARS-CoV-2 B.1.351 (Beta) variant.
In April, Moderna concluded that its current vaccine is 90% effective six months after immunization. More infectious variants such as Delta, however, likely put that number in question.
Moderna’s vaccine, however, may be more effective against Delta than Pfizer’s.
A recent preprint involving some 50,000 participants involving the Mayo Clinic Health System indicated that Moderna’s vaccine was 86% effective from January to July. In the same period, Pfizer’s vaccine was 76% effective.
Boosters could improve the effectiveness of either vaccine against circulating variants.
This month, Pfizer aims to apply for authorization to use its current vaccine as a booster.
Moderna plans on seeking authorization to use its COVID-19 vaccine as a booster in September. In August, the company plans on filing for full approval for its vaccine, which was granted emergency use authorization in December.
Reports suggest that FDA could approve the COVID-19 vaccine from BioNTech and Pfizer in September.
Filed Under: clinical trials, Drug Discovery, Infectious Disease