Pfizer has begun developing a modified version of its COVID-19 vaccine that combines the original jab with a new formulation that is meant to combat the Omicron variant. However, the new hybrid dose is separate from the standalone, Omicron-specific vaccine that the company has announced back in November, shortly after the variant of concern was discovered.
CEO Albert Bourla said that the company is still studying how the hybrid stacks up to the standalone shot, and will be determining which dose to move forward with by March when it will be submitted to the US Drug and Food Administration (FDA) for approval. To prepare the modified vaccine for release, the company has already started production for it.
Pfizer announced in November that it was producing an Omicron-specific vaccine, with a rollout target of 100 days. Bourla also mentioned that the company’s partner, BioNTech, is testing higher-dose versions of the vaccine, as well as different regiments.
The firm isn’t alone in fast-tracking the Omicron vaccine, as Moderna is also working on a booster dose that is expected to enter clinical trials soon with a tentative launch date of fall 2022. Meanwhile, data from the UK Health Security Agency has revealed that two doses of Pfizer’s or Moderna’s vaccine is not enough to fend off infection from Omicron, making boosters especially critical at this time.