As Pfizer and BioNTech start testing whether a third dose of their COVID-19 shot can help fend off new coronavirus variants, a massive real-world study has confirmed that its first, two-dose regimen is 94% effective. The third-dose study now underway will gauge the effects of that follow-up dose on circulating and new COVID-19 virus variants. At the same time, the companies are in talks with the FDA and EMA about studying a new booster specifically designed to tackle new variants. They’re hoping to validate “future modified mRNA vaccines with a regulatory pathway similar to what is currently in place for flu vaccines,” according to a press release.
BioNTech CEO Ugur Sahin said the partners are “evaluating a second booster in the current regimen as well as preparing for a potential rapid adaption of the vaccine to address new variants which might escape the current version of our mRNA-based vaccine.” The Pfizer announcement follows news that mRNA vaccine rival Moderna has sent a newly designed booster shot for NIH testing. The booster targets the South African variant of the virus. Moderna is also looking at potential multivariant boosters and at its original shot as a half-dose booster. Still, Pfizer thinks a third dose of its current shot will amp protection against variants. CEO Albert Bourla told NBC News the company believes the third dose “will raise the antibody response 10- to 20- fold.”
Covid-19 Vaccine Scams Grow, Leveraging Confusion About How to Get the Shot
Consumers researching ways to protect against the novel coronavirus might have stumbled upon what appeared to be a new website from Moderna Inc., announcing in capital letters, “You may be able to buy a Covid-19 vaccine ahead of time,” and offering doses for $30 each.
The sham site was one of many pandemic-related cyber schemes to emerge in the past year. Scammers are taking advantage of widespread anxiety about Covid-19, enticing people to give up their personal data and money with the promise of a vaccine. After a U.S. Department of Homeland Security investigation of the site, three Baltimore-area men were arrested on Feb. 11, charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud. As of last week, Homeland Security investigators had seized roughly $33 million in illicit proceeds and analyzed almost 80,000 Covid-19 domain names, according to a spokeswoman for the agency.