Pfizer announces development of booster shot in light of contagious Delta variant

Pfizer variant

As concerns over the Delta variant continue to mount, Pfizer and BioNTech announced Thursday they are working on a booster shot of their vaccine aimed at providing better protection against it. The highly contagious Delta variant has quicky become the most dominant in the U.S. and in other areas across the globe.

In a statement released Thursday, Pfizer, along with vaccine partner BioNTech, said that they believe a third dose of their vaccine has “the potential to preserve the highest levels of protective efficacy against all currently tested variants including Delta,” and the companies are working on an updated version “that targets the full spike protein of the Delta variant.”

The announcement comes on the heels of the Israeli Ministry of Health’s recent findings that based on real-world data, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine appears to provide 64% efficacy against the Delta variant, not 94% as previously announced in May.

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“As seen in real-world data released from the Israel Ministry of Health,” the companies’ statement read, “vaccine efficacy in preventing both infection and symptomatic disease has declined six months post-vaccination, although efficacy in preventing serious illnesses remains high. Additionally, during this period the Delta variant is becoming the dominant variant in Israel as well as many other countries.”

The companies stated they will publish “more definitive data soon as well as in a peer-reviewed journal and plan to submit the data to the FDA, EMA and other regulatory authorities in the coming weeks.” They also noted that their findings have consistently shown a booster shot would most likely be needed. “We continue to believe that it is likely, based on the totality of the data we have to date, that a third dose may be needed within 6 to 12 months after full vaccination.”

According to their statement, the companies anticipate the clinical studies to begin in August, subject to regulatory approvals.