Could 1 COVID-19 dose be enough? Researchers ponder over Pfizer’s higher vigor

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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US-based multinational drugmaker Pfizer could see its COVID-19 vaccine co-developed with its German counterpart BioNTech, be administered only once during mass vaccination drives as a recent study reiterated the higher efficacy its first dose carried against coronavirus. 

A study conducted by Candian researchers Danuta Skowronski and Gaston De Serres revealed that the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine was 92.6 percent effective. The results which were published in the New England Journal of Medicine were based on an analysis of the documents submitted by Pfizer to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Earlier, Pfizer’s US counterpart Moderna had reported similar efficacy numbers for its COVID-19 vaccine when the study results hinted at a 92.1 percent effectiveness for the first dose of the drugmaker’s vaccine (mRNA-1273 vaccine) against coronavirus.

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The latest report gives a big boost to authorities across the globe who are struggling to find enough vaccine doses to inoculate their citizens against COVID-19. Commenting on the revelation, Pfizer stated that it has not considered any alternate dosing regimens for its vaccine and the final decision needs to be made by health authorities.

The higher efficacy of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine could mean that countries, struggling with low supplies can now explore different dosing patterns or volumes to reach maximum citizens. The scenario also creates a dangerous atmosphere where nations could ignore the recommended vaccination schedules created after extensive trials in urgency to vaccinate as many people as possible.

Sharing their view on the possibility of such a scenario, researchers Skowronski and De Serres warned that the available data does not provide any indication of how long the protection from a single dose would remain while adding that taking the second dose a month after the first provided “little added benefit in the short term”.

Authorities in Britain have already moved the second vaccination window for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 dose from 21 days to 12-weeks stating that they have seen enough evidence in the available data to support their move. Pfizer as well as its development partner BioNTech have warned against the trend citing that there is no evidence to prove it.

The US FDA has continued to stick to the 21 days scheduled recommended by the vaccine maker.

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