THURSDAY, Feb. 25, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- Pfizer and BioNTech say they plan to update their original COVID-19 vaccine and also test a third booster shot to prepare for the possibility that new coronavirus variants may be more resistant to the vaccine.
"We are taking multiple steps to act decisively and be ready in case a strain becomes resistant to the protection afforded by the vaccine," Albert Bourla, M.D., the chief executive of Pfizer, said in a statement, The New York Times reported.
Laboratory tests have shown that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is less effective against a variant first identified in South Africa, known as B.1.351, but there is no clinical trial evidence suggesting that the vaccine does not offer strong protection.
Pfizer and BioNTech are in discussions with regulators about testing an adapted version of the vaccine that would protect against the B.1.351 variant and will conduct a study on whether a third shot given about six to 12 months after the initial two-dose regimen provides extra protection, The Times reported.
The same technology used to create the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was used by Moderna to develop its COVID-19 vaccine. Moderna said Wednesday that doses of a newly adjusted vaccine meant to deal with the B.1.351 variant have been sent to the U.S. National Institutes of Health for testing, The Times reported.