Researchers at the Department of Microbiology at the University of Hong Kong published the first microscopic images of the new omicron variant of Covid-19 on Wednesday.
The team, which is comprised of medical scientists like pathologists and virologists, isolated an image of the variant by taking an electron micrograph of a monkey kidney cell that became infected with omicron.
The high magnification and low magnification images created by the team have allowed them to analyze the damage done to cells by the virus as well as isolate the viral coronavirus particles.
The researcher’s images will also play a key role in the race to develop vaccines that are effective against omicron.
Pfizer announces that three doses of vaccine “neutralize” omicron
Officials from Pfizer and BioNTech, the firms that produced the very first coronavirus vaccine, said that three inoculations of their product “neutralized” the omicron variant in new laboratory tests.
They then announced that they could deliver a reformulated vaccine in March of 2022 if that becomes needed in order to fight the new variant.
“The first line of defence, with two doses of vaccination, might be compromised and three doses of vaccination are required to restore protection,” explained BioNTech Chief Medical Officer Ozlem Tuereci in the Wednesday press conference. However, he stated that the two doses many millions of people have now had all over the world may still protect against severe forms of the disease.
Just the two doses of the Pfizer product resulted in significantly lower neutralizing antibodies, Tierce stated, but a third dose was exponentially more effective, upping that by a factor of 25.
The BioNTech and Pfizer officials are the first manufacturers of any coronavirus vaccine to speak officially regarding how their vaccine worked against the Omicron mutation of the virus.
Using samples of blood taken approximately one month after subjects obtained their booster shot, the Omicron variant was observed as being neutralized nearly as effectively as the original two doses worked against the original strain of the virus that was first identified in China.
Pfizer and BioNTech used a virus that they had bio-engineered to have the hallmark mutations of Omicron, known as a pseudovirus. The subjects’ blood samples were collected either three weeks after their second vaccine dose, or one month after a third.
Ugur Sahin, the CEO of BioNTech, the small German startup that partnered with the pharma giant Pfizer in producing the first vaccine used around the world, told reporters today that countries might consider shortening the time period between administration of the second and third doses of the vaccine to best fight against the effects of the Omicron mutation.
Sahin recounted the recent policy of some nations, including Great Britain, to bring administration of the third shot of vaccine forward to three months after individuals have received their second dose.
This represents a halving of the previous time between the second and third doses, which had been six months.