The South African Health Products Authority (Sahpra) has approved the use of a third booster dose of Pfizer’s Comirnaty Covid-19 vaccine for most of South Africa’s population.
This comes after Sahpra received an application on 17 November 2021 from Pfizer to amend the dosing schedule for the Comirnaty Covid-19 vaccine, allowing an optional third dose.
After evaluating data submitted by the company, Sahpra approved the third dose in individuals aged 18 years and older to be administered at least six months after the second dose.
In addition, it approved the third dose in individuals aged 12 years and older who are severely immunocompromised to be administered at least 28 days after the second dose.
Sahpra added that the data it analysed only dealt with homologous boosting, where the third dose is of the same vaccine as the initial course.
“Sahpra is aware of the keen interest in the efficacy and safety of heterologous boosting regimens, so-called “mix-and-match” approaches, and invites the submission of supportive data in this regard.”
The approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech booster shot in South Africa comes after several early studies showed that two doses of the vaccine still provided partial protection against the new Omicron variant.
While the variant saw a robust reduction in Covid-19 antibodies in people who had received two doses of the vaccine, it did not result in a complete loss of protection.
However, according to Christian Drosten, the director of virology at Charite, a university hospital in Berlin, the studies proved that booster shots would be needed.