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Pfizer-BioNTech reports an increase in antibodies in the first human results of an updated booster

It’s unclear how much protection the updated omicron boosters offer against infection in the six weeks since they were approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

Pfizer and BioNTech gave an early look at their ongoing human study. They stated in a press release Thursday that the booster produced a strong immune response to the BA.4/BA.5 subvariants.

However, these findings don’t address the question of whether the shot is effective against infection or sickness in the real world.

These results were based on blood samples from adults taken one week after receiving the updated booster. Pfizer stated that the levels of neutralizing antibodies against BA.4 (and BA.5) in those blood samples were higher than the levels before the booster.

John Moore, a professor in microbiology and immunology at Weill Cornell Medical College was critical of the announcement calling it unhelpful.

He stated that “what matters is the performance of the bivalent booster, and we don’t have any way to assess that from the press release.”

Others were more optimistic.

Bill Hanage is an associate professor at Harvard’s T.H. The Chan School of Public Health said that the new vaccine should provide “good protection” to people who have received it.

He said that the protection provided by previous boosters will fade over time and that the virus may continue to evolve in ways that would allow it to escape the immune system.

The FDA approved Pfizer’s updated booster in August. It targets the BA.4 omicron subvariants and the original coronavirus strain. This move was considered risky because it did not include data from human trials. Moderna’s updated booster was also approved by the FDA based on similar limited data.

FDA approved the revised shots based on studies in mice and human trials results from a similar booster, which targets the original Omicron strain (called BA).

Dr. Peter Marks was the FDA’s top vaccine regulator at the time and stated that the FDA hoped that the new vaccines would provide greater protection against symptomatic diseases than the older vaccines.

In an interview, Dr. Anthony Fauci, White House chief medical advisor, stated that scientists will not know for several months how the vaccines perform in real life until they are tested. Officials in the United States have stated that they believe the new shots will be more effective than the first vaccine, which was only designed to combat the coronavirus strain.

Some experts remain skeptical and say scientists will not know how much better new shots are until they are widely tested in humans.

David Boulware is an infectious disease physician at the University of Minnesota Medical School. He said that the release suggests a positive immune response. However, Pfizer did not provide any data.

He said that the release was “rather vague” and added that Pfizer’s “substantial rise” could be anything.

In a release, Pfizer stated that it expected to provide data on antibody levels one month after booster recipients received the booster.

Moderna did not immediately respond to a request to comment on when it would release updated data about its booster.

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