Pfizer and BioNTech are updating the vaccine against the delta variant

Pfizer and BioNTech are updating the vaccine against the delta variant

The two companies have applied for authorizations for a specific clinical study. The goal is to adapt the mRna vaccine to better counter the delta variant of the coronavirus

(photo: Soumyabrata Roy / NurPhoto via Getty Images) Pfizer and BioNTech companies have just announced that they are working to provide an anti- Covid to mRna against Covid-19 updated, to make it even more effective against the delta variant. To this end, the two manufacturers have requested the approval of the US regulatory authorities to launch a clinical trial on the updated vaccine. According to the companies, the trial could start as early as August. The announcement comes in an official statement from companies whose goal is to further improve protection against the delta, in the face of recent news of a decline in coverage (but of that not against severe forms which remains high).

Current vaccines against delta: how effective are they?

If laboratory tests have shown that two doses of Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccine is also effective against the delta variant, today the more attention comes from the latest data reported by the Israeli health authorities (remember that Israel was very quick in the vaccination campaign). The Israeli Ministry of Health has stated that there is a possible drop in protection against the Covid-19 disease caused by the delta: there is talk of a 30% decrease in effectiveness, which would therefore be 64% against symptomatic forms. But the authorities note that the coverage against severe forms remains at 93%, another reason why vaccination with two doses remains fundamental.

Updating the vaccine

In the face of these data and the increase in cases associated with the delta in various countries, including Italy, Pfizer and BioNTech have adapted the vaccine to the new variant , recalling that with the new messenger RNA vaccines a change of this kind is simpler and faster than with traditional vaccines. Without prejudice to the greater speed, the actual arrival of the new vaccine depends on the time taken by the health authorities for the evaluation and authorization of the new release on the market, which would probably be faster than the initial one of the new product. So far we know that the clinical trial based on the new formulation should begin, if all goes as planned, in August.

The data on the third dose

In general, the laboratory tests have gone well: a study by the University of Texas Medical Branch, published in Nature, pointed out that two doses of Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccine in laboratory tests stimulate the production of a high amount of antibodies (or rather a high antibody titer) against the variant delta. Also for these reasons, the companies anticipate that a third dose could further enhance the immune response, a bit like it has been shown for the beta variant (formerly South African). Therefore, preclinical and clinical studies on the further recall are underway.

Pfizer and BioNTech anticipate that preliminary data from the third dose studies are promising, even if it is only an announcement and these results are not yet published. The two companies let it be known that they plan to request an authorization for emergency use shortly - like all the vaccines we have against Covid - also for a new administration. However, to date, US regulatory authorities, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), have written in a joint statement that Americans who have already received two doses should not undergo. at the third dose, for the moment.

Regarding the possible choice of the vaccine for this further booster, moreover, it must be remembered that recently two scientists, Antonio Cassone and Roberto Cauda, ​​have hypothesized that, for those who received two the first two doses of mRna vaccine, the third could be carried out with a non-mRna vaccine, given that from the latest report by the Italian Medicines Agency side effects such as fever and muscle aches, even of intense entity, seem to increase to the increase in the number of doses.

When will the third dose be given?

Also on the timing of the extra booster and on the duration of immunity, the data to which Pfizer and BioNTech refer are those presented by Israel. "As observed by real-life data released by the Israeli Minister of Health - the companies write - the efficacy of the vaccine decreased 6 months after vaccination, while in the meantime the delta variant has become dominant in the country". These results, they explain, are in line with those found in the study conducted by the companies: "This is the reason why we have stated and continue to believe that it is likely, based on the overall set of data collected, that a third dose is necessary. between 6 and 12 months after full vaccination ”.

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