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AstraZeneca (AZN) COVID-19 Booster Dose Useful Against Omicron

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AstraZeneca (AZN - Free Report) announced positive data from a preliminary analysis of an ongoing study, which evaluated the safety and immunogenicity of the third/booster dose of Vaxzevria, AZN’s COVID-19 vaccine.

The D7220C00001 study involves administering a third/booster dose of AstraZeneca’s COVID vaccine after three months to individuals who had completed the primary two-dose regimen of either AstraZeneca’s COVID vaccine or an mRNA-based COVID vaccine developed by Pfizer (PFE - Free Report) /BioNTech (BNTX - Free Report) or Moderna (MRNA - Free Report) .

Data from the D7220C00001 study demonstrated that the third dose of Vaxzevria elicited increased antibody responses against the Alpha, Beta, Delta and Gamma variants of concern. In fact, an additional analysis of data also showed that a third dose of Vaxzevria boosted antibody responses against the Omicron variant. AstraZeneca plans to report further analysis from this study in first-half 2022.

The data reported by AstraZeneca is in line with the data from a laboratory study conducted by the investigators at the University of Oxford released last month. The study supported Vaxzevria protection against Omicron. We note that Vaxzevria was developed by AstraZeneca in partnership with the University of Oxford.

AstraZeneca plans to use data from these studies as a proof, suggesting that the third dose of its COVID vaccine is effective, both as a homologous or heterologous booster against various COVID variants, including Omicron. Data from these studies will be used by AZN to support the submission to the health regulators worldwide, seeking authorization for a booster dose of Vaxzevria. AstraZeneca’s booster dose of COVID vaccine is not yet authorized for use in any country.

In the past year, shares of AstraZeneca have risen 13.3% compared with the industry’s 15.7% increase.

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While AstraZeneca vaccine shots are approved for use in more than 90 countries worldwide, the same is yet to be approved in the United States. In fact, the COVID vaccine market in the United States is dominated by vaccines developed by Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and J&J. In fact, the booster doses of the vaccines developed by these three companies are also approved in the United States, both for homologous and heterologous administration.

The Omicron variant is rapidly spreading and affecting millions of people, including those who completed the primary vaccine series. With the rise in COVID-19 infection cases worldwide, there is a huge need for COVID vaccines, including booster doses.

Both Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna demonstrated that the booster doses of their COVID vaccines showed effectiveness against the Omicron variant.

Last month, Pfizer and BioNTech announced data from a pseudovirus neutralization test, which demonstrated that the three doses of their COVID vaccine Comirnaty (BNT162b2) neutralize the Omicron variant.

Moderna is also evaluating its multivalent booster and Omicron-specific booster candidates in phase II/III studies. Last month, Moderna announced preliminary data from a pseudovirus neutralization titer assay study, demonstrating that its COVID-19 vaccine booster increased neutralizing antibody levels significantly against the Omicron variant.

While Pfizer/BioNTech expect to deliver an Omicron-specific booster by March, Modernais planning to advance its Omicron-specific booster into clinical studies in early 2022.

In a separate press release, AstraZeneca announced that it entered into a partnership with the privately-held Scorpion Therapeutics wherein it will utilize the latter’s discovery platform to develop and market novel treatments for cancer proteins, which are difficult to target. Per the collaboration terms, Scorpion will receive $75 million as an upfront payment from AstraZeneca and will also be eligible for potential milestones and royalties.

Zacks Rank

AstraZeneca carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) at present. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.


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