Covid booster dose is important for omicron variation, here’s why

U.S. President Joe Biden receives a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) booster vaccine at the South Court Auditorium of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building at the White House in Washington, U.S., September 27, 2021.

Kevin Lamarque | Reuters

As the specter of the omicron looms large during the festive season, governments around the world are scrambling to deploy Covid-19 booster shots to boost protection against the highly contagious variant. than.

It has been less than a month since the new severe mutant Covid omicron strain was discovered and designated a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization. Previous studies have shown that the immunity provided by the Covid vaccine wanes after about six months – meaning booster shots are essential to increase protective antibodies to fight back. potential Covid infection.

The emergence of omicrons has made booster shots all the more important. This is because some early studies – which were published before the peer review due to the urgency of the situation – have shown that the Covid vaccine is less effective against the omicron variant than the delta-dominant strain. globally and other variations.

But the same studies have shown that three doses of the vaccine – two preliminary shots plus a booster dose – significantly increase protection against omicrons.

Here’s a summary of the studies released so far and what they’ve found:

Early finds from South Africa

Results of Pfizer-BioNTech

The UK’s Health Security Authority

The UK’s Health Security Agency released a report last Friday, citing early findings from a real-world study, said a two-dose series of Covid vaccines was significantly less effective against the omicron variant than the delta variant. However, it found that a “Moderate to high vaccine efficacy of 70 to 75% is seen in the early period after booster dose.”

The booster dose evaluated was a Pfizer-BioNTech injection, with study participants receiving their first two doses of either the University of Oxford-AstraZeneca or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines.

However, UKHSA warned that efficacy against severe disease with omicrons could be several weeks away, adding that “the length of time that protection is restored following mRNA enhancement has not yet been determined at this point in time. this.”

Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech’s injections are mRNA – or messenger RNA vaccines – that teach our cells how to make a protein that will trigger an immune response in our bodies. This response then produces antibodies that help protect people against the Covid infection.

Research from Israel

More studies emerged from Israel on Saturday, with researchers also finding that a triple course PfizerBioNTech Vaccines provide significant protection against omicrons.

The study, conducted by the Sheba Medical Center and the Department of Health’s Central Virology Laboratory, compared the blood of 20 people who had received two doses of the vaccine five to six months earlier with the same number of who had received a booster shot a month earlier.

“People who received a second dose 5 or 6 months ago didn’t have any neutralizing ability against omicrons. While they did have some against delta [strain]”, said Gili Regev-Yochay, director of the Infectious Diseases Unit at Sheba, as reported by Reuters over the weekend.

“The good news is that with the booster dose it increases by a hundredfold. There is a significant protection of the booster dose. It is less than neutralizing for the plains, about four times lower,” she said.

Oxford University Research

The researchers tested people’s blood samples 28 days after they got their second dose of either vaccine. When omicrons were introduced into those samples, the scientists reported “a significant decrease” in neutralizing antibodies against Covid.

Although the effectiveness of a booster shot for severe infections is yet to be confirmed, the number of omicron infections in Europe, the US and southern Africa where it was first detected is rapidly increasing.

Early studies and anecdotal evidence suggest that although omicrons are more contagious, they cause less serious infections. There is further evidence that two doses of the Covid vaccine – which has been shown to significantly reduce the risk of severe infection, hospitalization and death when confronted with previous Covid variants – reduces the risk of hospitalization due to omicron infection.

On Tuesday, a large case study from South Africa found that two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine provided 70% protection against hospitalizations during the country’s recent surge in cases. and 33% protect against infection, Reuters reported. The researchers conducting the study caution that its findings should be considered preliminary.

Boost urgently

Now, the race is on for governments to provide their populations with vaccine boosters. Officials in the US, UK and elsewhere are urging people to shop ahead of the holiday season.

It comes when omicrons cause an uptick in Covid cases. British scientists have estimated that omicron cases double every two to three days and said the country will have to deal with a million cases by the end of the year.

The omicron variant now accounts for at least 20% of confirmed cases in the UK, and UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid warned that the new variant accounts for 44% of London cases and is expected to become the could dominate the capital for the next 48 hours.

Long lines were seen across the UK as people lined up to secure their booster shots, while the country’s vaccine ordering website crashed on Monday amid increased demand leap.

The UK government says it is mobilizing the army, adding volunteers and opening more centers to complete its ambitious booster vaccination campaign. Those over 30 can already order an additional shot, and from Wednesday all over 18s will be able to book.

More than half a million people in the UK ordered a booster shot on Monday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted. Covid booster dose is important for omicron variation, here’s why

Ryan Perry

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