AstraZeneca announced on Thursday that preliminary findings from a trial showed that when given as a third booster dosage, its COVID-19 injection, Vaxzevria, increased antibodies against the Omicron and other variations.
The increased response, which was also seen against the Delta variant, was seen in a blood analysis of people who had previously been vaccinated with either Vaxzevria or an mRNA vaccine, according to the drugmaker, who added that given the urgent need for boosters, it would submit this data to regulators around the world.
The vaccine was created by AstraZeneca in collaboration with University of Oxford researchers, and lab experiments conducted by the university last month indicated that a three-dose course of Vaxzevria increased antibody levels in the blood against the quickly spreading Omicron strain.
AstraZeneca released its first comment on the protective potential of Vaxzevria as a booster shot after a two-shot course of either an mRNA-based vaccine or Vaxzevria on Thursday, but it did not disclose specific data. BioNTech-Pfizer and Moderna are two companies that produce vaccines based on mRNA technology.
The findings "additionally support Vaxzevria as a third dose booster irrespective of the primary immunization schedules evaluated," according to the company.
The findings on Vaxzevria's booster potential came from a comparison study of a modified vaccination that used the same vector technology as Vaxzevria but targeted the now-superseded Beta version. AstraZeneca is attempting to demonstrate that the Beta-specific vaccination is equally effective against other variations, and more trial results are expected in the first half of the year.
Separately, Oxford University and AstraZeneca began work on an Omicron-specific vaccine last month, though Astra - and other vaccine producers involved in similar development programs - have stated that it is not yet apparent whether such an upgrade is required.
AstraZeneca's shot raised antibodies when given as a booster after first immunization with its own shot or Pfizer's, according to a big British trial published in December, but this was before the Omicron variant's exponential spread.
However, at the time, research showed that Pfizer and Moderna's mRNA vaccines delivered the greatest increase to antibodies when given as a third dosage.
Despite the fact that the vaccine is not licensed in the United States, AstraZeneca and its contract manufacturing partners have shipped over 2.5 billion doses globally, while BioNTech-Pfizer has shipped around 2.6 billion doses.