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Pfizer says its COVID-19 booster protects against the Omicron variant

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Yahoo Finance's Anjalee Khemlani joins the Live show to report on Pfizer announcing its vaccine boosters have proved effective against the COVID-19 Omicron variant.

Video Transcript

JULIE HYMAN: As Pfizer and BioNTech say this morning that their COVID-19 vaccine is effective against the Omicron variant if you get your booster. Our Anjalee Khemlani is here with the details of that new research that's out. Anjalee, good morning.

ANJALEE KHEMLANI: Good morning, Julie. And that's absolutely correct. We got word from Pfizer that their preliminary data, which is studies that they did in the lab with a synthesized version of the Omicron variant, shows that the vaccine does protect, especially if you have those three doses, so that additional booster shot.

As of right now, what they found out is that the three doses do protect and neutralize the Omicron variant. Two doses is also somewhat protective, but does show a drop in that neutralizing protection. That really builds the case for what a lot of experts have been calling for, which is to say that three doses is going to be the full level of protection needed against sars-cov-2.

Right now, though, the company did say that it is still working on a variant specific dose because they're still waiting for further data to show. Meanwhile, this follows what we saw within the past 24 hours, a lot of focus on the Pfizer vaccine versus the Omicron variant. We got data out of Africa. The Africa Health Institute showed that there was a 40-fold drop in protection against the vaccine, so that created some concern.

Late yesterday, a lot of experts were talking about it and what the implications were. Some cautioning that this does not necessarily mean that the vaccine does not protect entirely, it just shows that there is some decrease. Remember, we saw this in the Beta variant, which came out of South Africa earlier this year. That also did show some drop in protection.

But Omicron is showing significantly more drop in protection than other variants, so that's where some concern is coming from. We also saw another lab study coming out of Sweden. And the scientists there found that there was a seven-fold drop in protection. And they did the test a little differently. They were analyzing blood samples to get that data.

But this also follows what we saw in the last 24 hours again with the World Health Organization saying that all of this preliminary data, this is new, but preliminary data pointing to vaccines still being protected at least against severe disease, hospitalization, and death. So that's where things stand right now. Again, still more data needed. Back to you.

JULIE HYMAN: Yes, most definitely. And two quick follow up questions. Just to confirm, much of what we've also heard about Omicron is that it is still not causing on a relative basis severe illness. That's part one. Part two, we're still waiting to hear from Moderna as to any preliminary data on the effectiveness of its vaccine against Omicron, correct?

ANJALEE KHEMLANI: Correct on both fronts. The Omicron variant so far presenting with mild symptoms. And then Moderna, we're still waiting on the data there. But, of course, because Pfizer is a similar mRNA technology, it could be similar results.

JULIE HYMAN: Gotcha. Anjalee, thank you so much, as always doing the hard work here covering a lot of different moving parts when it comes to the vaccines and to COVID-19.