A doctor prepares a dose of Pfizer vaccine at the American University Beirut Medical Center (AUBMC) in Beirut, Lebanon, Feb. 14, 2021.
On Thursday (25), U.S. pharmaceutical company Pfizer announced that it has started a study to inject a third dose of a vaccine against the common virus (COVID-19) to determine if it can boost immunity against more resistant variants of the virus. But some experts say it’s impossible to determine whether the product developed based on the existing vaccine will be effective against the Variant virus, and that a new vaccine may need to be developed.
The Associated Press reported that Pfizer announced Thursday that it has begun research on a third dose of a vaccine for the Chinese communist virus to enhance resistance to the variant. The study aims to determine whether a supplemental vaccine, given six to 12 months after the first two doses, can boost immunity in vaccinees.
The company also said they are about to give a third dose of the vaccine to 144 volunteers who participated in the initial U.S. trial last year.
Several countries have already begun vaccination, although new variants of the CCP virus continue to emerge. Following the emergence of variants in the United Kingdom, Brazil and South Africa, India recently announced that 240 variants of the CCP virus have been detected in the country.
The New York Times has also reported that a new variant of the Chinese Communist virus called “B.1.526” is spreading rapidly in New York. This new strain is more resistant than the variants that are spreading in California (B.1.427 and B.1.429), potentially reducing the effectiveness of the vaccine.
In the face of the rapidly mutating CCP virus, Taiwan Society of Infectious Diseases Medical Director L.M. Huang noted that a new vaccine may need to be redeveloped.
He said, “The common conclusion at this point is that these mutant strains are starting to escape the grasp of antibodies, so it all has some degree of escape effect.” So what’s it going to take to fight the mutant strains? Should we use the existing vaccine to enhance the effect, or should we develop a new vaccine? Both strategies are currently “under discussion.
Dr. Xiaoxu Lin, a former virology researcher at the U.S. Army Research Institute, has also pointed out that the early vaccines developed by many vaccine companies, whether they were mRNA nucleic acid vaccines, inactivated vaccines, or recombinant protein vaccines, basically used the gene sequence of the echinoderm protein of the earliest Wuhan virus strain as a reference. The new mutated virus has a slightly different echinoderm protein than the earlier strains, and the impact on the vaccine remains to be studied.
Lin also cautioned that how protective a product based on an existing vaccine can be after a virus mutation will need to be weighed more carefully. He added that “the study of mutations that make viruses dangerous is imminent, and the study of how the whole virus evades the immune system poses a big challenge.”