Bivalent Boosters Are Better Against Recent COVID Strains: Pfizer

Nov. 7, 2022 — If you’re among the 92% or more of Americans who have yet to get a two-way COVID-19 booster, here’s some news to consider. The company says the Pfizer/BioNTech updated vaccine stimulates a stronger immune response than the fourth dose of their original vaccine.

This evidence supports getting this Omicron-specific booster before a potential COVID-19 surge this winter.

The bivalent vaccine provides the strongest protection in people over 55 years of age. One month after receiving the booster, individuals of this age had four times more antibodies against the Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subtypes than those who had received the original vaccine. Booster

The researchers compared neutralizing antibody levels before and after the booster in different age groups. They found that levels rose 13-fold in the 36 people over the age of 55 in the study and nearly 10-fold in the 38 people aged 18 to 55. Booster

The bivalent product contains two types of vaccine – one to protect against the original COVID-19 virus and the other to protect against these Omicron subtypes.

Eric Topol, MD, director of Scripps Research, says, “The newly released data are now very encouraging and consistent with three studies neutralizing BA.5 compared to the original booster. show three- to fourfold increased levels of anti-inflammatory antibodies.” Translational Institute in La Jolla, CA, and editor-in-chief of Medscape, WebMD’s sister site.

Pfizer/BioNTech announced the latest results in a News of November 4 continues.

The bivalent vaccine is authorized for emergency use in people 5 years of age and older. CDC data This week found that 8.4% of eligible Americans have received the bivalent vaccine. The agency also estimates that about 2,500 Americans are dying from COVID each week.

The safety profile of the Pfizer/BioNTech bivalent booster is favorable and similar to the original COVID-19 vaccine, the company says.

Until recently, the BA.5 Omicron variant was the dominant strain in the United States but is now being superseded by subtypes BQ.1.1, BQ.1, and BA.4.6, which together Makes about 45 percent of circulating viruses.

Some doubts

“It’s important to note that these data are at the press release level, which does not allow for the overall status of the data to be seen,” said Dr. Hana El Sahli says.

“For example, there may be significant differences between groups, and the release mentions at least one difference that is of importance: the interval since the last vaccination, which often affects the response to subsequent exacerbations. ” she says. El Sahli says the results are not surprising.

“In the short term, a variant-specific vaccine produces higher levels of antibody against the variant in the vaccine than a vaccine based on the parent strain.”

Further research findings are warranted.

“These data do not indicate that these differences between the two vaccines translate into a meaningful clinical benefit at the population level,” says El Sahli.

An uncertain winter ahead

“As we head into the holiday season, we hope this updated data will encourage people to seek a COVID-19 bivalent booster as soon as possible to avoid the widely circulated Omicron BA. .4 and be able to maintain a high level of protection against BA .5,” says Albert Borla, Pfizer’s chairman and chief executive officer, in the news release.

The latest data from the Pfizer/BioNTech study “is more reason to get a booster, with added protection vs. BQ.1.1, which will soon become dominant in the US,” Topol says.

It’s unclear when the next spike will occur, because COVID-19 doesn’t always follow a seasonal pattern — at least not yet, El Sahli says.

“Regardless, it is reasonable to recommend an additional dose of vaccine to the immunocompromised and frail or elderly. More importantly, given the early and severe flu season, get up on influenza vaccination and pneumococcal vaccine as soon as possible.” Staying up to date is recommended.”

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