Early data shows 3rd dose of Pfizer vaccine ‘strongly’ protects against delta variant, company says

Data collected by American pharmaceutical company Pfizer shows that a third dose of the company’s COVID-19 vaccine “strongly boosts” an individual’s protection against the highly transmissible delta variant, according to data released Wednesday by the company.

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In prepared remarks published online ahead of Pfizer’s second-quarter earnings call, Mikael Dolsten, chief scientific officer and president of worldwide research, development and medical for Pfizer, said that preliminary data gathered by the company showed a third vaccine dose boosted protection for individuals when compared to those who received only two doses of the vaccine.

Citing “a small number of participants,” Dolsten said that preliminary data indicated that, when tested against the delta variant, a third dose of the company’s vaccine produced neutralizing antibody titers that were five times as strong as after a second vaccine dose in people between 18 and 55 years old, and 11 times as strong in people between 65 and 85 years old.

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“Receiving a third dose more than six months after vaccination, when protection may be beginning to wane, was estimated to potentially boost the neutralizing antibody titers in participants in this study to up to 100 times higher post-dose three compared to pre-dose three,” Dolsten said.

As of Wednesday, the data had not been published or peer reviewed, CNN reported.

Pfizer data also indicated that a third dose of its COVID-19 vaccine boosted protection against the original variant of the virus and the beta variant, which was first discovered in South Africa.

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Dolsten said the company continues to believe “it is likely that a third dose booster may be needed within 6 to 12 months after full vaccination to maintain the highest level of protection.”

“We are in ongoing discussions with regulatory agencies regarding a potential third dose booster of the current vaccine and, assuming positive results, anticipate an Emergency Use Authorization submission as early as August,” he said.

>> Related: Coronavirus: Delta variant accounts for 83% of sequenced COVID-19 cases in US, CDC director says

In recent weeks, public health officials have said that the delta variant now accounts for more than 80% of all COVID-19 cases nationwide. The spread of the variant prompted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to urge vaccinated people to resume wearing masks in places where cases are spiking on Tuesday, months after health officials relaxed mask-wearing guidance for fully vaccinated Americans.

“The delta variant is showing every day its willingness to outsmart us and to be an opportunist in areas where we have not showed a fortified response against it,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Tuesday.

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Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, more than 34.6 million COVID-19 cases have been reported across the U.S., resulting in over 611,300 deaths, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University. Globally, 195.5 million COVID-19 cases have been reported, resulting in over 4.1 million deaths.

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