Booster vaccinations are already recommended for certain people in Germany: The vaccine from Biontech and Pfizer
Photo: Marcelo Del Pozo / REUTERS
The German company Biontech and its US partner Pfizer have submitted further data on the effectiveness of booster vaccinations against the coronavirus.
A phase III study showed that the booster vaccination increased the protective effect against Covid-19 to 95.6 percent, as the manufacturers announced in a press release.
After a double vaccination, Comirnaty from Biontech / Pfizer protects more than 90 percent against a serious course of the disease, but the protective effect then decreases again, so that a booster vaccination could be useful.
The current data from Biontech and Pfizer have not yet been verified by independent experts and published in a trade journal.
Lower risk of getting sick
According to the company, more than 10,000 test persons who were at least 16 years old took part in the study.
All had reportedly previously received two doses of the Biontech / Pfizer vaccine.
Half of the participants received a booster vaccination in the same dose as for the other two vaccinations.
The other half of the participants received a placebo.
An average of eleven months passed between the second and third vaccination.
According to the company, five Covid-19 cases occurred among the people who received a booster vaccination, and 109 cases in the placebo group.
That corresponds to a vaccine effectiveness of 95.6 percent.
"These important data expand the existing knowledge and show that booster vaccinations can help to protect large parts of the population from this virus and its variants," Biontech boss Uğur Şahin is quoted in the press release.
According to their own information, Biontech and Pfizer plan to have their study results assessed by experts.
In addition, these are to be submitted to the US FDA and the European Medicines Agency (Ema).
Are booster vaccinations really necessary?
Whether booster vaccinations are needed for the general population is controversial.
On the one hand, there are ethical concerns, as access to corona vaccines is still not guaranteed for poorer countries.
This is also one of the reasons why a group of scientists spoke out against booster vaccinations for the general population in mid-September - at least in the current phase of the pandemic.
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The effectiveness of the available vaccines is so high, despite the spread of the Delta variant, that booster vaccinations are currently not appropriate for the majority of humanity, said the experts, including experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the FDA.
Other experts consider booster vaccinations to be particularly useful for older people, as their immune system often no longer reacts as strongly and they are therefore likely to develop less protection against Covid-19 than younger people who have been vaccinated.
In addition, the risk of severe coronavirus progression is particularly high in old age and the very elderly were the first to be immunized in Germany due to their comparatively increased risk - their vaccination was often more than six months ago.
Booster only for certain people
At the beginning of October, the Standing Vaccination Commission (Stiko) made a recommendation for booster vaccinations in Germany - but only for certain groups of people.
According to this, people over the age of 70, residents of old people's homes as well as nursing staff and other employees who have direct contact with those receiving care in outpatient and inpatient care facilities are to be offered a third dose of vaccination.
The same applies to staff in medical facilities with direct patient contact.
The booster vaccination with an mRNA vaccine should take place no earlier than six months after the completion of the primary vaccination, regardless of the vaccine previously used.
With mRNA vaccines like the one from Biontech, the vaccine already used in the basic immunization should be used if possible.
According to the Stiko recommendation, people who have been vaccinated with the corona vaccine from Johnson & Johnson should also receive an additional dose of an mRNA vaccine - from four weeks after the Janssen immunization, for which only one dose is generally recommended will.