Pfizer official optimistic vaccine protects against 3 new COVID-19 variants

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CORRECTION: Information in the below story regarding the Pfizer vaccine’s effectiveness in protecting against COVID-19 variants has been updated with additional information provided by Kit Longley, Senior Manager of Science Media Relations for Pfizer.

STILLWATER, Okla. (KFOR) – As more Americans sign up to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, researchers are continuing to watch emerging variants of the virus to see how well the vaccines protect patients.

Pfizer Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer of Viral Vaccines Dr. Philip Dormitzer spoke at OSU’s inaugural INTERACT Eminent Speaker Series.

During his speech, he said the Pfizer vaccine protects against the variants from the U.K., South Africa and Brazil. However, clinical data is needed to be sure, Kit Longley, Senior Manager of Science Media Relations for Pfizer, later told KFOR.

In all, he says his team studied 46,331 participants at 153 clinics around the world with good diversity for race, ethnicity, age and underlying medical conditions.

As more Americans are vaccinated against COVID-19, Dr. Dormitzer says researchers will continue to study how the future with COVID-19 will appear.

He says immunity could be durable, which means that the virus could become seasonal. In that instance, a vaccine would only be needed for pediatric patients.

Otherwise, communities might need a vaccine booster.

On the other hand, it could be a constantly changing virus like the flu that requires repeated immunizations.

“If I were to guess, I would think it is more likely to not be quite like the flu,” Dormitzer said. “Coronaviruses are different. They have a much lower rate of change. I am surprised by how much change we have seen. I wonder how much is really being driven by immunity and how much is being driven by this virus still adapting to growth in humans. The key is we are going to be prepared for whatever it is we have to do.”

Looking ahead, Dormitzer said that Pfizer and partner BioNTech will continue to ramp up production, develop new dosage formulation, explore the use of boosters for durability, study potential use in younger populations and pregnant women and prepare for emerging SARS-CoV2 strains.

To date, 14 million people in the U.S. have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

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