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No evidence that Pfizer vaccine needs updating for variants, says BioNTech

BioNTech has developed a “comprehensive strategy” to address any variants in the future should they arise.

Image: SIPA USA/PA Images

THERE IS NO evidence the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine against Covid-19 needs updating to protect against variants, BioNTech has said.

In its financial and company update report, the German firm said: “To date, there is no evidence that an adaptation of BioNTech’s current Covid-19 vaccine against key identified emerging variants is necessary.”

However, the company said it had developed a “comprehensive strategy” to address any coronavirus variants in the future should the need arise.

It comes after laboratory results and real-life data suggested the vaccine can protect against catching the Covid variants currently in circulation, although less effectively when it comes to some, such as the South African variant.

However, experts believe the jab can still protect against severe disease and hospital admission – a view echoed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca when looking at their own vaccine.

Last week, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly got Cabinet approval for the government to enter into an EU agreement that will see Ireland get 4.9 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in 2022 and another 4.9 million in 2023.

Under the agreement, Ireland would have enough to fully vaccinate approximately 2.45 million people with two doses. Ireland will also retain the option of securing an additional 9.8m doses over the same time period.

Ministers were told that variants could continue to evolve over the coming months and that vaccine immunity is not indefinite.

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Therefore, it is likely that repeated boosters with updated vaccine formulations may be needed for a very high proportion of the population.

Vaccinations will also likely be extended to persons under 16 years of age, Cabinet was told.

With reporting by Christina Finn and Press Association

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