In a laboratory test, BioNTech and Pfizer claimed on Wednesday that a three-shot course of their COVID-19 vaccine was able to neutralize the novel Omicron strain and that an Omicron-based vaccine could be delivered in March 2022 if needed.

BioNTech and Pfizer said that two vaccine doses resulted in significantly lower neutralizing antibodies, but that the third dose of their vaccine increased neutralizing antibodies by a factor of 25 in the first official statement from vaccine manufacturers on the likely efficacy of their shot against Omicron.

Blood from people who had their third booster shot a month ago neutralized the Omicron variant about as well as blood from people who had two doses of the original virus that was first discovered in China.Pfizer and BioNTech Announce Vaccine Candidate Against COVID-19 Achieved Success in First Interim Analysis from Phase 3 Study | Business Wire

"The best course of action to prevent the spread of COVID-19 remains to ensure that as many people as possible are completely vaccinated with the initial two-dose series and a booster," Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said in a statement.

Despite the lack of urgency, the businesses said they will keep working to bring an Omicron-specific COVID-19 vaccine to market, which they began when the new lineage initially sparked global worry among scientists on Nov. 25.

The Comirnaty vaccine's anticipated output of 4 billion doses in 2022 was not likely to change if a modified vaccination was necessary, they noted.

The findings are consistent with a preliminary study published on Tuesday by researchers at the Africa Health Research Institute in South Africa, which found that Omicron can partially evade protection from two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, implying that a third shot could help prevent infection.

However, even after three doses, a lab analysis at Frankfurt University Hospital indicated a diminished antibody response to Omicron.

Even though the lab data did not provide any new information, the US-German vaccine partners expressed optimism about their shot's ability to protect against any serious Omicron sickness.

They claim that Omicron's mutations have little effect on the vast majority of surface structures on the Omicron spike protein targeted by T-cells, which typically arise after immunization.

"The firms believe that people who have been vaccinated against severe forms of the disease may still be protected," they added.

T-cells, together with antibodies, are the second pillar of an immune response and are thought to prevent serious disease by attacking contaminated human cells.