Pfizer will seek permission to inject a third dose and increase protection

Both the United States and the EMA have doubts that three vaccines are really necessary

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A dose of Pfizer's vaccine at a health center in Pittsburgh, United States

BarcelonaCompanies Pfizer and BioNTech will ask the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for permission to inject a third booster dose of their vaccine and thus offer more protection against covid-19. In a statement reported by Efe news agency, the two companies say they have "encouraging data" from an ongoing test of the booster vaccine and added that it provides five to ten times higher levels of neutralizing antibodies when administered six months after the second dose. The companies plan to submit this data to the FDA "in the next few weeks" to get clearance.

The question is whether a third dose is really needed or if it is a company strategy to sell more doses. The American digital media The Hill recalls that some scientists have warned that vaccine manufacturers are finding financial incentives to develop booster drugs and for the government to invest in more doses. For the moment, however, US health officials have specified that there is no clear need for a booster vaccine. In fact, Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government's top infectious disease expert, reiterated on Thursday that two shots of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines protect even against the delta variant.

However, Pfizer provided data on the results obtained with the vaccine in Israel. "As seen in real-world data published by the Israeli Ministry of Health, the vaccine's efficacy in preventing infections and symptomatic disease has declined six months after vaccination, although the efficacy in preventing severe disease remains high," Pfizer warns. "From the data [Israel] has so far, Pfizer and BioNTech believe that injecting a third dose between 6 and 12 months after the second dose may be beneficial to maintain the highest levels of protection," said the companies, which are partners in the production of this vaccine.

Pfizer also explained that it is preparing to begin clinical trials of a modified vaccine specifically targeting the delta variant in August, if needed. Nevertheless, the company insists, a third dose of the original vaccine might be a better option.

Europe thinks it is "too early"

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has also reacted and, in statements to Efe, a source from the agency has pointed out that it is "too early to confirm" whether a third dose of the covid-19 vaccines is needed because "there is not enough data" to calculate the real duration of protection. A source from the European regulator has pointed out that at the moment "there is not enough data from the vaccination campaigns and ongoing studies to understand how long the protection of the available vaccines against covid-19 will really last". The decision will be taken "in the coming weeks", according to the EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides.