A third dose of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine provides “significant protection” against the Omicron variant of COVID-19, Israel researchers said Saturday.
The study, conducted by Sheba Medical Center and the Health Ministry’s Central Virology Laboratory, examined blood from 20 people who got two shots of Pfizer’s vaccine 5-6 months earlier to the identical amount of those who were administered a booster a month before.
“People who received the second dose 5 or 6 months ago do not have any neutralization ability against the Omicron. While they do have some against the Delta [variant],” said Gili Regev-Yochay, director of the center’s Infectious Diseases Unit, according to Reuters.
“The good news is that with the booster dose it increases about a hundred fold. There is a significant protection of the booster dose,” she explained. “It is lower than the neutralization ability against the Delta, about four times lower.”
“People who have received the booster are better protected than those who received only the second, and of course, more than the unvaccinated,” said Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis, Israel’s health department’s head of public health services, according to the Jerusalem Post. “Two doses are not effective enough.”
The findings come after Pfizer said Wednesday that preliminary results of a laboratory study show a third dose of the company’s COVID-19 vaccine neutralizes the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.
The promising report prompted President Joe Biden to celebrate the study.
“The expectation is that the existing vaccines protect against Omicron, but if you get the booster, you’re really in good shape,” Biden said. “And so that’s very encouraging news.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House chief medical adviser, has said in recent days that a booster COVID-19 dose specifically for the Omicron variant may not be necessary but a third dose will soon be required to be considered “fully vaccinated,” and that the variant, named last month, is “almost certainly” less severe than the virus’s Delta variant.
Last month, BioNTech announced that it has begun working on creating a COVID-19 vaccine to target the Omicron variant.