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Pfizer’s updated COVID vaccine exhibits effectiveness against new variant in mice study

Pfizer's updated COVID-19 vaccine has demonstrated effectiveness against the "Eris" subvariant in a study involving mice. This development comes as part of ongoing efforts by Pfizer, in collaboration with its German partner BioNTech SE, along with other vaccine manufacturers like Moderna and Novavax, to address emerging variants.

By Rekha Joshi 
Updated Date

Pfizer Inc made an announcement on Thursday regarding its ongoing efforts to address emerging variants of the COVID-19 virus. The company reported positive results from a study in which its updated COVID-19 vaccine demonstrated the ability to neutralize the “Eris” subvariant. This study was conducted using mice as a testing model.

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Pfizer collaborated with its German partner, BioNTech SE, and other prominent COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers like Moderna and Novavax to develop modified versions of their vaccines. These adaptations are specifically targeted at addressing the XBB.1.5 subvariant.

The “Eris” subvariant, often referred to as EG.5, shares genetic similarities with the XBB.1.5 subvariant and is categorized as a sub-lineage of the Omicron variant, which remains highly prevalent globally.

Of notable concern is the fact that EG.5 has contributed to more than 17% of COVID-19 cases reported in the United States, as indicated by the latest government data.

While COVID-19-related hospitalizations in the United States have seen an increase of over 40% from the lows recorded in June, it’s important to highlight that these numbers remain significantly lower—over 90% below—the peak levels observed during the Omicron outbreak in January 2022.

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The presence of the EG.5 subvariant is not limited to the United States; it has been identified in several other countries, including China, South Korea, Japan, and Canada.

Due to its unique genetic makeup and potential implications, the World Health Organization has classified EG.5 as a “variant of interest.” This designation signifies that EG.5 is subject to heightened scrutiny and monitoring, as its mutations could potentially enhance its transmissibility or severity.

Pfizer’s announcement underscores their progress in adapting their COVID-19 vaccine to address evolving variants like EG.5. This development is part of a broader effort among various pharmaceutical companies to ensure vaccine effectiveness against new viral mutations and contribute to global public health.

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