According to experts from Hong Kong, the Pfizer BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine is less effective against the B11529 Omicron Strain. Studies revealed that the new variant reportedly reduced the mRNA induced antibodies by at least 32-fold.
The scientists who originate from the University of Hong Kong (HKU) and the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) studied the BNT 162b2 mRNA vaccine developed by BioNTecg. The firm partnered with mainland Chinese drug manufacturer Fosun Pharma to distribute the jab to China and surrounding areas.
Additionally, BioNTech partnered with Pfizer to handle distribution outside of China.
The findings, which were published on December 12th, found that the omicron variant reduced the vaccine-induced bodies by at least 32 times. They discovered this through blood analysis from 10 people who got the two-dose vaccine in November 2021.
The neutralising antibodies induced by the mRNA vaccine dropped from 320 units to a minute 10 units for the omicron strain. At least 25 units are needed to protect against infection.
Malik Peiris, a HKU virologist, said: “We can see most individuals had high level of virus-killing activity against the original SARS-CoV-2 [strain], but this ability was markedly reduced by 32-fold or more against the omicron variant.”
The scientists also noted that additional research is required to fully understand how the mutations on the omicron variant’s spike protein – which the virus uses to enter human cells – affected its sensitivity to vaccines. Reportedly, the B11529 strain possessed more than 35 mutations on its spike protein alone.
As a result, the researchers called on the elderly and those from vulnerable groups to line up and get their booster jab.
“It will be important for those who are at higher risk, including older age and those with immunocompromised conditions or other chronic diseases – such as diabetes and high blood pressure – to take booster doses of vaccine as soon as possible,” Peiris said.
David Hui Shu-cheong, CUHK respiratory expert and pandemic adviser to the special administrative region, said: “We expect that vaccines may still have a protective effect against severe disease and death. It is therefore important that all those who are eligible for vaccination get fully vaccinated.”
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