Pfizer says it's starting clinical studies of an omicron-based COVID-19 vaccine

Posted at 7:27 AM, Jan 25, 2022

Pfizer and BioNTech said Tuesday they've begun clinical trials for an omicron-based COVID-19 vaccine.

According to a press release, the vaccine will be tested initially in adults aged 18 to 55.

"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 U. Jansen, Pfizer's senior vice president and head of vaccine research and development. "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 efforts to towards this goal."

The highly-contagious omicron variant of COVID-19 has caused the record-breaking transmission of COVID-19 since it arrived in the U.S. several months ago. While omicron has shown the ability to better evade vaccines than past variants, those who have been vaccinated and gotten a booster shot are far more likely to avoid serious illness from an omicron infection.

Late last year, Pfizer's CEO said the company would be able to develop an omicron-specific vaccine within 100 days. However, health officials say those who have not been vaccinated or boosted should seek out a shot now rather than wait for a variant-specific booster.