Thursday, 11 August, 2022
HomeCoronavirusPfizer-BioNTech vaccine holds up against Omicron – Discovery analysis

Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine holds up against Omicron – Discovery analysis

Pfizer-BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine provided strong protection against hospitalisation during SA’s fifth wave of coronavirus infections, suggesting the shot held up against the Omicron sub-lineages BA.4 and BA.5.

This is according to preliminary analysis from health and life insurer Discovery, BusinessLIVE reports.

The real-world study, which has yet to be published, drew on data from 1.58m Gauteng-based beneficiaries of medical schemes administered by Discovery Health between April 1 and mid-May, when SA experienced its fifth surge in coronavirus cases.

Discovery Health is a subsidiary of the JSE-listed Discovery, and has access to claims data from the 3.3m beneficiaries of its 19 client medical schemes.

The finding is important because previous laboratory analysis has found the antibodies generated by the Pfizer vaccine have a reduced ability to neutralise Omicron compared with older variants such as Delta.

People who had received two doses of the Pfizer jab had an 87% lower risk of hospitalisation after infection with the virus than people who had not been vaccinated, two months after they got their second shot.

Vaccine efficacy against admission to hospital dropped to 84% at between three and four months and fell to 63% at five to six months.

These two-dose findings are comparable with previous analysis of vaccine efficacy against the earlier Omicron strains, BA.1 and BA.2, which drove SA’s fourth wave in December.

The latest study also looked at the impact of Pfizer booster shots and found vaccine efficacy against hospitalisation leapt to 88% three to four months after people received their third dose.

“What is unique here is that it is the first glimpse of vaccine efficacy against BA.4 and BA.5. (The analysis) shows there is continued vaccine efficacy against these variants and, most importantly, three doses have a higher lift in terms of protection than two,” said Shirley Collie, Discovery Health’s chief healthcare analytics actuary.

Discovery previously co-authored a study with the Medical Research Council, published in the New England Journal of Medicine that compared the vaccine effectiveness of the Pfizer jab to Johnson & Johnson’s shot between 15 November  and 7 December.

It found people who had received two Pfizer doses were 70% less likely to be hospitalised than unvaccinated people one to two months after their second shot, while those who received two J&J doses were 72% less likely to be hospitalised.

Collie said it was too soon to tell from Discovery’s data whether there was a significant waning of protection after a third Pfizer shot.


BusinessLIVE article – Pfizer jab shows its calibre in fifth wave, Discovery analysis shows (Open access)


See more from MedicalBrief archives:


Discovery Health’s large real-world analysis of Omicron


Triple shot of Pfizer vaccination ‘neutralises Omicron variant ‘


Pfizer and Moderna fare better against variants of concern – Dutch research



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