University Hospitals Pfizer booster shot trial shows promising initial numbers

Published: Aug. 26, 2021 at 9:33 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 26, 2021 at 11:06 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Researchers are working fast and furiously to get answers about COVID-19 booster shots, like who needs them and how effective they are.

University Hospitals is working with Pfizer on a series of booster shot studies, and their results are promising.

After participating nearly a year ago in a Pfizer COVID vaccine study, Chris Harris was invited to participate in University Hospital’s second wave of trials on Pfizer’s third, or booster shot for COVID-19.

“I was certainly concerned about my immunity, with the delta variant,” Harris said, about his potentially waning immunity to the virus.

Doctor Robert Salata heads up the study as Program Director for UH Roe Green Center for Travel Medicine & Global Health.

He says breakthrough cases and information gathered globally led the White House Task Force to recommend these booster shots.

“One example is in Israel and you look at the Pfizer vaccine after about six months. It does decrease its level of effectiveness from 95 to about 80 percent,” he said.

In March, Salata says they did a small-scale study, that found people tolerated the third shot similarly to how they fared with the second and the antibody response was promising.

“From the March data there’s already been some information shared from the Pfizer group that they did see a significant boost in the immune response,” he said.

Salata says they’re working on processing the data from the August booster study, and expect results next month.

Many people want to know if the booster shot protects them from the delta variant.

“We think so. That’s based upon the fact that when you measure the antibody responses after a booster of the original vaccine, you seem to achieve levels of the antibody protection that should overcome the delta variant,” Salata said.

But the delta variant continues to change the game.

“On its heels is another variant, probably, called lambda, which originated in Peru and is prevalent throughout South America, is now in 40 states in the United States with about 1,200 cases to date. It may be even more resistant to the vaccines but that remains to be seen,” Salata said.

He believes the same technology used in the COVID booster shots could be used to boost the efficacy rates of other vaccinations, new generations of influenza and shingles shots.

They’re hoping to better the 30-60 percent efficacy rate of annual influenza vaccines using easy to manipulate messenger RNA technology and create these new generation multivalent vaccines that cover multiple variants.

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