President Joe Biden receives an updated bivalent COVID-19 booster vaccine in Washington on October 25. Pfizer and BioNTech announced Friday that their data shows the bivalent booster is highly effective against the Omicron COVID-19 variants dominant in the United States. Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI | License Photo
Nov. 4 (UPI) -- Pfizer and BioNTech jointly announced Friday that their latest COVID-19 bivalent booster vaccine is much more effective that the original vaccine was against Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 variants for people over 55.
"As we head into the holiday season, we hope these updated data will encourage people to seek out a COVID-19 bivalent booster as soon as they are eligible in order to maintain high levels of protection against the widely circulating Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 sublineages," Albert Bourla, chairman and CEO of Pfizer, said in a statement.
"These updated data also provide confidence in the adaptability of our mRNA platform and our ability to rapidly update the vaccine to match the most prevalent strains each season."
The bivalent booster is authorized for emergency use by the FDA for anyone 5 and older.
BioNTech co-founder and CEO Ugur Sahin said in a statement: "These data demonstrate that our BA.4/BA.5-adapted bivalent vaccine works as conceptually planned in providing stronger protection against the Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 sublineages. ... Our goal is to provide broader immunity against COVID-19 caused by SARS-CoV-2, including Omicron and other circulating strains."
According to data from their research, one month after getting the bivalent booster shot, the antibodies that neutralize the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron variants of COVID-19 "increased 13.2-fold from pre-booster levels in adults older than 55 years of age and 9.5-fold in adults 18 to 55 years of age, compared to a 2.9-fold increase in adults older than 55 years or age who received the original booster vaccine."
The two companies said they intend to share the data with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, European Medicines Agency and other global health authorities as soon as possible.
According to the companies, the bivalent vaccine strengthens protection against the COVID-19 variants "regardless of previous SARS-CoV-2 infection."