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Pfizer-BioNTech: Booster improves immunity against COVID-19 subvariants

United States President Joe Biden gets his second COVID-19 booster shot from Pfizer on the White House campus March 30. Pfizer and BioNTech said the bivalent booster is effective against emerging subvariants of Omicron BA.4/BA.5. Photo by Rod Lamkey / UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/4698f4a81a56a6eebf9a838efa9f1f6d/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
United States President Joe Biden gets his second COVID-19 booster shot from Pfizer on the White House campus March 30. Pfizer and BioNTech said the bivalent booster is effective against emerging subvariants of Omicron BA.4/BA.5. Photo by Rod Lamkey / UPI | License Photo

Nov. 18 (UPI) -- Pfizer and BioNTech said Friday their latest Omicron BA.4/BA.5-adapted bivalent COVID-19 booster vaccine also shows effectiveness against new subvariants of the virus.

The companies said in a statement that their bivalent COVID-19 vaccine data shows "a greater increase in neutralizing antibody titers than the companies' original COVID-19 vaccine against these emerging Omicron sublineages."

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The sublineages include BA.4.6, BA.2.75.2, BQ.1.1 and XBB.1.

"Based on these findings, the Omicron BA.4/BA.5-adapted bivalent booster may help to provide improved protection against COVID-19 due to Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 sublineages as well as new sublineages that continue to increase in prevalence," Pfizer said in a statement.

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Pifzer said Omicron BA.5 is causing about 30% of U.S. COVID-19 cases, while the BQ.1.1 subvariant accounts for nearly 25% of U.S. COVID-19 infections.

According to Pfizer and BioNTech, the adapted bivalent booster increased neutralizing antibodies 11.1-fold against BA.4.6, while neutralizing antibodies against BA.2.75.2, BQ.1.1, and XBB.1 increased by 6.7-fold.

"Overall, the bivalent booster generated a greater increase in neutralizing antibodies against emerging Omicron sublineages than the original Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine," the Pfizer and BioNTech statement said.

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The companies previously announced Nov. 4 that their bivalent COVID-19 booster increased protection against Omicron variants BA.4 and BA.5 13.2-fold from pre-booster levels in people older than 55.

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Two sub-variants of Omicron -- BQ.1.1 and BQ.1 -- have replaced BA.5 and are now the dominant strains in new COVID-19 infections in the United States.

The Pfizer-BioNTech Omicron BA.4/BA.5-adapted bivalent COVID-19 vaccine booster is authorized for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for people aged 5 and older. It's also authorized for marketing in the European Union for people 5 and older.

RELATED New COVID-19 subvariants replace BA.5 as most dominant in U.S.

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