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Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

A booster shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is 95.6% effective against the coronavirus, compared with those who only had the first two initial doses, according to a large study released Thursday.

Why it matters: The study, which had more than 10,000 participants aged 16 and older, is the first controlled, randomized trial looking at boosters and their effectiveness, the companies said.

  • The companies said the study was conducted during a time when the Delta variant was "the prevalent strain."

Details: Trial participants received either a booster shot or a placebo. "The median time between second dose and administration of the booster dose or placebo was approximately 11 months," the companies said.

  • During the study period, there were five virus cases among the group with boosters and 109 in the non-boosted group, giving the extra shot an efficacy rate of over 95%.

The big picture: The Food and Drug Administration has already approved booster shots for those who received the Pfizer vaccine who are at high risk of developing severe COVID-19 and for people 65 years and older.

  • On Wednesday, the FDA gave its approval for Americans to get booster shots that are different from the COVID vaccine they initially received, as well as booster shots for people who received the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

What they're saying: "These results provide further evidence of the benefits of boosters as we aim to keep people well-protected against this disease," said Albert Bourla, chairman and CEO of Pfizer.

  • "In addition to our efforts to increase global access and uptake among the unvaccinated, we believe boosters have a critical role to play in addressing the ongoing public health threat of this pandemic," Bourla added.

Go deeper

Jan 15, 2022 - Health

Experts warn of more COVID-19 variants after Omicron

Three COVID-19 testing companies place testing locations outside Grand Central Terminal on Jan. 14 in New York City. Photo: Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

Experts are warning that subsequent COVID-19 variants are likely to come after Omicron, AP reports.

Why it matters: The warnings come as there's no guarantee that subsequent variants "will cause milder illness or that existing vaccines will work against them," underscoring the need for widespread vaccination, AP writes.

Updated 7 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Bomb cyclone prompts blizzard warnings from Virginia to Maine

Computer model projection showing the intense storm off of Cape Cod on Jan 29, 2022, with heavy snow and strong winds lashing the coastline. (Weatherbell.com)

Blizzard warnings are in effect for 11 million people from coastal Virginia to eastern Maine as a historic winter storm is set to slam the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast beginning Friday.

Why it matters: The storm will bring hazards ranging from zero visibility amid hurricane force wind gusts and heavy snow, to coastal flooding that will erode vulnerable beaches and threaten property from the Jersey shore to coastal Massachusetts.

Updated 8 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Contact tracing fizzles across America — New clues emerge on long COVID — Omicron is finally burning out — It's very difficult to get access to antiviral COVID treatments — Axios-Ipsos poll: Omicron's big numbersAnother wave of death — FDA limits use of Regeneron and Lilly antibody treatments.
  2. Vaccines: Pfizer begins clinical trial for Omicron-specific vaccine — The shifting definition of fully vaccinated.
  3. Politics: Virginia AG says public colleges can't mandate COVID vaccines —Alaska governor joins Texas lawsuit over National Guard vaccine mandate — Navy discharges 45 sailors for refusing vaccine — Spotify to remove Neil Young's music after his Joe Rogan ultimatum — White House: 60M households have ordered free COVID-19 rapid tests.
  4. World: U.K. to lift travel testing requirement for fully vaccinated — Beijing Olympic Committee lowers testing threshold ahead of Games.
  5. Variant tracker