Drug maker Pfizer has begun trials to test the effectiveness of a third, or booster, dose of its vaccine against the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 and its variants, the company has announced.
The study will use participants from the pharmaceutical firm's Phase 1 trial who received the first dose six months ago, to ''understand the effect of a booster on immunity against COVID-19 caused by the circulating and potential newly emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants,'' the company said in a release on its website.
"We believe that the third dose will raise the antibody response 10- to 20- fold,'' Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla told NBC.
Pfizer's latest trial will examine the results of a third dose in two age groups: those 18 to 55 and those 65 to 85. The volunteers are people who were among the first to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in the company's initial test, which began in May.
As part of the new study, Pfizer will test if an altered version of its vaccine is effective against a variant of the virus first identified in South Africa.
The Food and Drug Administration issued guidance on Monday allowing for drug manufacturers to modify their vaccine to account for variants, much in the same way annual influenza inoculations are altered to adjust for changes year to year.
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