By Team

MIAMI (CBSMiami/CNN) — Pfizer and BioNTech have started a clinical trial for their Omicron-specific COVID-19 vaccine.

They’re now testing it to evaluate its safety, tolerability, and level of immune response.

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“We are looking to see if we can create a vaccine that covers Omicron and doesn’t forget the other variants,” explained Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla.

Pfizer’s study will examine the Omicron-specific vaccine as both a primary dose and a booster dose in 14-hundred healthy adults ages 18 to 55.

“I caution you that we need to be careful because if other variants emerge, this Omicron-specific vaccine may not have adequate coverage against future variants,” said Dr. Carlos del Rio, Executive Assoc. Dean, Emory University School of Medicine.

Health experts say the trial can potentially answer two major questions:

Does this vaccine make a difference? And is a fourth dose really needed?

The announcement comes as Omicron appears to be plateauing in the US with health officials saying the country is heading in the right direction.

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“The best-case scenario is that in a matter of several weeks to a month or so we’ll continue to come down and down,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

Meanwhile, Pfizer’s CEO says that in the future, getting a COVID-19 vaccine could be like getting the flu shot.

“What I’m hoping that we will have is a vaccine that will have to do once a year. Like we do for many other things once a year, it is easier to convince people to do it,” said Bourla.

Bourla says Pfizer plans to have the new Omicron-specific vaccine ready in March.

So, what about a fourth dose?

Israel’s COVID Advisory Board is recommending a fourth vaccine dose for people 18 and older if more than five months have passed since their third dose.

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