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A new COVID booster shot is being tested to protect against new variants. (Pexels)

As studies are being performed to further understand the highly transmissible omicron variant, Austin Regional Clinic is one of the nationwide labs—and only one in Central Texas—testing a new Pfizer vaccine to protect against COVID-19 variants.

The study will consist of two parts. The first will evaluate the safety and efficacy of a third shot containing two virus strains. The second will evaluate the safety and efficacy of a shot containing one virus strain. The results will be compared to those previously vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine. The trial is currently enrolling adults between the ages of 18 and 85 who are currently unvaccinated for COVID-19 and have no history of a COVID-19 infection; participants will be compensated $100 for each visit.

If the trials are successful and eventually approved by the Food and Drug Administration, it could be the next recommended booster shot.

“As new variants emerge with unknown risks, such as the latest omicron, we must continue to research new approaches to ensure that our vaccines can adequately protect against COVID-19,” said Dr. Amy Siegel, internal medicine physician at ARC and principal investigator at ARC Clinical Research. “If evidence emerges that the existing vaccines are less effective against the variants, trials like this one will make us better prepared.”

Since the COVID vaccine was first available almost a year ago, multiple variants have emerged, including the delta variant that caused a nationwide surge and the new omicron variant that is believed to multiply 70 times faster than delta.

While it is unclear how effective the currently available vaccines are against COVID, local health officials still urge residents to get vaccinated and take the recommended COVID precautions to protect themselves and others from possible severe symptoms from the virus.


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