Pfizer and BioNTech announced they've begun clinical trials on a modified version of their COVID-19 vaccine aimed to specifically protect against the omicron variant on Tuesday (January 25), NBC News reports.
The pharmaceutical companies said they plan to conduct trials on up to 1,420 healthy adults between the ages of 18 and 55 in an effort to evaluate whether the modified vaccine is safe and provides a strong immune response amid the ongoing omicron surge.
Participants will be divided into three groups -- fully vaccinated, fully vaccinated and boosted and unvaccinated -- to see whether it is necessary to receive one, two or three doses of the omicron-specific vaccine.
Additionally, the companies plan to launch a separate, but similar study involving participants above the age of 55 and the modified vaccine.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new research last Friday (January 21) which found that a booster shot of the current COVID vaccines provides strong protection against severe illnesses, including the omicron variant, which is currently responsible for most new cases nationwide.
Additionally, the CDC data also suggested the existing boosters offered "significant protection" against both infection and symptomatic illness, but protection was reported to be higher during the delta variant surge last summer compared to the recent spike in omicron cases.