Pfizer pushes for third shot clearance as Delta strain drives global outbreaks A vial of Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine. (REUTERS/Dado Ruvi)
WITH cases rising again in Europe and the United States because of the Delta variant, Pfizer and BioNTech announced on Thursday (8) that they would seek authorisation for a third dose of their Covid-19 vaccine to boost its efficacy.
Pfizer and BioNTech said they expect that a third dose will perform well against the Delta strain, and that they will be seeking authorization in the United States, Europe and other regions in coming weeks.
Delta is the most infectious strain of the virus since the start of the global pandemic in early 2020.
Originally detected in India months ago, it has quickly spread and today is accelerating outbreaks even in countries with high vaccination rates.
This led the World Health Organization to warn that the world was at a “perilous point” as the official global death toll passed four million.
Third shot raises antibody level
Initial data from an ongoing trial showed a third shot pushed antibody levels five to 10 times higher against the original coronavirus strain and the Beta variant, first found in South Africa, compared to the first two doses alone, according to a statement.
The companies said they expected similar results for Delta – but added they are also developing a Delta-specific vaccine against the strain.
US regulators said on Thursday (8) they were still studying the need for booster shots.
“Americans who have been fully vaccinated do not need a booster shot at this time,” the Food and Drug Administration and US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a joint statement.
“We are prepared for booster doses if and when the science demonstrates that they are needed.”
In Africa, the WHO warned the worst was yet to come after the most disastrous week in its history of pandemics.
“The fast-moving third wave continues to gain speed and new ground,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO’s regional director for Africa.
Tunisian authorities said the country’s health system has “collapsed” under the weight of the pandemic, describing the situation as “catastrophic.”
The WHO said more than four million people have died from Covid-19, but cautioned that the figure was likely an underestimate.
The UN body’s chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned rich countries against complacency, and warned that the world was at a “perilous” point.
Delta is spiralling daily infections even in places where vaccination drives have been robust.