GMB: Dr Amir talks about mild effects of booster vaccine

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The US pharmaceutical said on Friday that a lower dose of its COVID-19 vaccine in those aged between two and four generated a weaker immune response than expected. In the study, children were given the Pfizer vaccine in two three-microgram doses – this is around one-tenth of the jab administered to adults.

The results found it did not create the same antibody response that a larger dose of the vaccine had in older children.

The three-microgram dose also generated a similar immune response in younger children aged six to 24 months.

Pfizer had expected to produce positive vaccine data for the under-five age group by the end of year.

The company is now going to trial a three-dose course in both age groups, as well as in older children.

If the additional dose proves to be successful, then Pfizer plans to apply for emergency authorisation in the first half of 2022.

Pfizer’s Chief Scientific Officer Mikael Dolsten said: “The data are illustrating the impact of a booster and that our vaccine works best as a primary regimen of three doses.”

Mr Dolsten added Pfizer expects some regions to continue to see pandemic levels of COVID-19 cases over the next year or two.

The drugmaker projected Covid should become an endemic around the world by 2024, but Mr Dolsten insisted this is dependent on the rate of vaccinations and variants.

He said: “When and how exactly this happens will depend on the evolution of the disease, how effectively society deploys vaccines and treatments, and equitable distribution to places where vaccination rates are low.

“The emergence of new variants could also impact how the pandemic continues to play out.”

Meanwhile, a new study by Imperial College London suggests the Omicron variant largely evades immunity from past coronavirus infection or two vaccine doses.

The research project suggested boosters are key to mitigating the impact of the Covid strain.

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It found the risk of reinfection with Omicron is 5.4 times greater than the previously dominant Delta variant.

Professor Neil Ferguson from Imperial College London, whose modelling helped to trigger the first lockdown in March 2020, said the variant poses a “major threat”.

He said: “This study provides further evidence of the very substantial extent to which Omicron can evade prior immunity, given by both infection or vaccination.

“This level of immune evasion means that Omicron poses a major, imminent threat to public health.”

On Friday, the UK recorded 93,045 new Covid cases, the highest daily total since the pandemic began.

It is understood the Prime Minister is considering a two-week circuit-breaker lockdown over the Christmas period following the surge in infections.

A Government spokesperson said: “The Government will continue to look closely at all the emerging data and we’ll keep our measures under review as we learn more about this variant.”

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