Pfizer and BioNTech said they are seeking approval for vaccination of a third dose of their Covid-19 vaccine to boost its efficacy, as the Delta variant drove devastating outbreaks in Asia and Africa and cases rose again in Europe and the United States.
With the pandemic once again regaining intensity, Japan banned fans from most Olympic events and placed Tokyo under a virus state of emergency throughout the Games.
The decision comes just two weeks before the opening ceremony. Delta is the most infectious strain of the virus since the start of the global pandemic in early 2020. Originally detected in India months ago, it has quickly spread and today is accelerating outbreaks even in countries with high vaccination rates.
This led the World Health Organisation to warn that the world was at a “perilous point” as the official global death toll passed four million.
Pfizer and BioNTech said they expect that a third dose will perform well against the Delta strain, and that they will be seeking authorisation in the United States, Europe and other regions in coming weeks.
Initial data from an ongoing trial showed a third shot pushed antibody levels five to 10 times higher against the original coronavirus strain and the Beta variant, first found in South Africa, compared to the first two doses alone, according to a statement.
The companies said they expected similar results for Delta — but added they are also developing a Delta-specific vaccine against the strain. A day ago, US regulators said they were still studying the need for booster shots.