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NEW YORK: BioNTech and Pfizer said on Wednesday a three-shot course of their COVID-19 vaccine was able to neutralise the new Omicron variant in a laboratory test and said they could deliver an upgraded vaccine in March 2022 if needed.

BioNTech and Pifzer are the first manufacturers of a COVID vaccine to issue an official update on the efficacy of their shot against Omicron.

The German and U.S. companies said two doses of their vaccine resulted in significantly lower neutralising antibodies but a third dose boosted those antibodies by a factor of 25.

In the first official statement from manufacturers on the efficacy of their vaccine against Omicron, they said two doses resulted in significantly lower neutralising antibodies but a third dose boosted those antibodies by a factor of 25.

UK issues call to arms for Omicron booster drive

The Omicron variant was neutralised in samples of blood taken around a month after the third shot about as effectively as two doses neutralised the original virus identified in China.

“Ensuring as many people as possible are fully vaccinated with the first two dose series and a booster remains the best course of action to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” Pfizer boss Albert Bourla said in the statement.

The Omicron variant, first detected in southern Africa last month, has triggered global alarm about another surge in infections. Cases have already been reported from Japan to the United States and across Europe.

The World Health Organization classified Omicron on Nov. 26 as a “variant of concern” but said there was no evidence to support the need for new vaccines specifically designed to tackle the variant and its mutations.

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