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With the delta variant surging, masks being recommended, and in some instances required again, it feels a lot like summer 2020. Add to that more vaccine trials and you may think you’ve time traveled. And that (at least the trials) is what is happening.  A NC research facility has been tasked with testing the efficacy of a booster dose of the Pfizer vaccine. Currently, Wake Research in Raleigh is conducting a clinical trial to test a third dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. Wake Research’s Dr. Matthew Hong told CBS 17, “The idea here is to see what the immune response will be and how it compares to just two doses”. 50% of study participants will receive an additional dose of the Pfizer vaccine, identical to the previous shots, and the others will receive a placebo. All participants in the expanded third dose trial were a part of the initial trials.

Pfizer’s data in a very small study showed strong antibody levels after a third dose, even against the delta variant, but Hong said trials would determine if it works with an expanded group of patients in a real-world setting. But the real question will be if fewer people from the booster group get infected compared to the placebo group. And at this point, it’s the million-dollar question. Especially with the delta variant, we are seeing breakthrough cases, though in the majority of the cases people are showing few or no symptoms. But will a third dose prevent these breakthrough cases?

There hasn’t been a significant number of breakthroughs so far involving the people in the original clinical trial who were given two doses. Depending on antibody levels six months after the third dose, researchers can compare two and three doses, but they’ll also collect safety data and evaluate how many people get sick throughout the trial. Currently the CDC is not recommending American’s receive a booster dose of the Pfizer vaccine or any other COVID vaccine. This could change if the current trends continue and we begin to see more breakthrough infections. This of course would not be until those additional doses have been proven necessary as well as safe and effective.