By Jamie Leary

DENVER (CBS4) – The makers of the Pfizer vaccine say data from a new study shows a third dose of their COVID-19 vaccine neutralized the omicron variant in lab tests while getting just two doses, was far less effective.

The study specifically said the third dose or booster shot increased antibodies 25-fold against the Omicron variant compared to two doses, but healthcare experts warn not to put too much weight into these initial studies.

STRATFORD, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 15: Vials of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine are seen during a vaccination clinic at the Sir Ludwig Guttmann Health and Wellbeing Centre on December 15, 2020 in Stratford, England. After rolling out the vaccine to dozens of \”hub\” hospitals last week, the NHS is now enlisting several hundred primary care practices in its covid-19 vaccination campaign. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)

“These are very small studies that are being reported. One out of South Africa, one out of Germany,” said Dr. Reginald Washington, Chef Medical Officer of Presbyterian/St. Luke’s. “It’s very exciting to hear some of these reports, but we don’t know if they will hold up when others have looked at the data, you know? Are there enough subjects? What’s age distribution, severity of illness etcetera. I say all that to say this is going to change undoubtedly.”

The studies have not been peer reviewed for publication in a scientific journal. Washington points out in Colorado, we are only beginning to hear about early stages of communal transmission, and officially, there are only two confirmed cases.

On Wednesday Dr. Rachel Herlihy, the state’s epidemiologist said, “We are encouraged by some of the results from the initial Pfizer/BioNTech laboratory study. It is good to see its effectiveness with boosters, but less reassuring for people that haven’t had a booster yet. It’s a good reminder about the importance of getting boosters in order to maximize protection against COVID-19.”

Washington says as far as officials know, so far, there have been no cases of hospitalizations in Colorado due to the omicron variant.

“I think the preliminary data says that you’re less likely to be severely ill from this variant but again until we know that people in nursing homes have been affected people who have chronic illnesses have been infected, we can’t make those generalizations with any certainty,” he said.

No matter what these latest studies are showing, he does know the booster prevents more serious complications from the delta variant, which he reminds is still prevalent in our state.

“We certainly encourage everyone who is eligible to get a booster to get one because remember the delta variant is still very prominent in the community and we know that if you receive a booster shot, your protection level goes way up,” said Washington.

Pfizer and BioNTech will continue to collect more laboratory data and evaluate real-world effectiveness to assess and confirm protection against Omicron and inform the most effective path forward.

Jamie Leary