Pfizer begins clinical trials for Omicron-specific COVID-19 vaccine

Pfizer begins clinical trials for Omicron-specific COVID-19 vaccine
Pfizer begins clinical trials for Omicron-specific COVID-19 vaccine

Pfizer, and its partner BioNTech, have started clinical trials for a new COVID-19 vaccine that is specifically targeted at the Omicron variant, which they say could be available as early as late March. 

The New York City based pharmaceutical company announced Tuesday that it is recruiting 1,420 participants for a three cohort trial that will determine the safety and effectiveness of the company's shot.

Albert Bourla, CEO of the company, indicated earlier this month that his company expects to submit data for authorization to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in March.

Some of the participants are the same as those who took part in trials for the company's booster shot and all are between the ages of 18 to 55 - implying the jab will only be available to adults at first.

An Omicron-specific vaccine has been sought after since the variant was first discovered by South African health officials in late-November, and early indicators were discovered that it could evade vaccine protection.

In the time since, scientists have confirmed that the variant can evade vaccine immunity and while boosters can shore up protection, a jab tailored to the new strain could be the most effective at preventing its spread. 

Pfizer has started trials for its Omicron-specific COVID-19 vaccine. The jab is being tested in one, two and three dose series. The company hopes to make the shot available as early as  March (file photo)

Pfizer has started trials for its Omicron-specific COVID-19 vaccine. The jab is being tested in one, two and three dose series. The company hopes to make the shot available as early as  March (file photo)

Some experts believe the March rollout of the shots may be too late, as by then the Omicron Covid wave that is already showing signs of receding may be gone altogether. Pictured: A man in Nevada receives a shot of a COVID-19 vaccine on December 21

Some experts believe the March rollout of the shots may be too late, as by then the Omicron Covid wave that is already showing signs of receding may be gone altogether. Pictured: A man in Nevada receives a shot of a COVID-19 vaccine on December 21

'While current research and real-world data show that boosters continue to provide a high level of protection against severe disease and hospitalization with Omicron, we recognize the need to be prepared in the event this protection wanes over time and to potentially help address Omicron and new variants in the future,' said Kathrin Jansen, head of Vaccine Research and Development at Pfizer, said in a statement.

'Staying vigilant against the virus requires us to identify new approaches for people to maintain a high level of protection, and we believe developing and investigating variant-based vaccines, like this one, are essential in our

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