What research on vaccine coverage against Omicron shows and what it means for global community

It has begun to become clear that the variant has the ability to avoid antibodies, leading to a surge in cases across the world.

A meeting of the WHO last Wednesday saw scientists sharing several research studies

Vaccine protection against Omicron: With the Omicron variant emerging, naturally numerous studies also began to look into whether the current vaccines would be sufficient to tackle the variant. Now, new studies are indicating that vaccines, especially booster shots, could provide protection from the worst outcomes of the omicron variant of coronavirus, according to a report in NYT. The research studies, however, have also said that the fast-spreading variant would be able to cause many breakthrough infections among the vaccinated populations, while also being able to re-infect people who have caught an older variant of SARS-CoV-2.

A meeting of the WHO last Wednesday saw scientists sharing several research studies that suggested that vaccinated populations’ T-cells were able to provide a strong defense against Omicron, capable enough to prevent any severe infection, hospitalisation or death due to the variant. Meanwhile, on Wednesday itself, US President Joe Biden’s medical adviser Dr Anthony Fauci also shared preliminary data from the analysis of Moderna vaccine carried out at his institute. The data showed that while two shots led to negligible protection against the new variant, a third shot led to significant increase in protection, the report added.

Similar results were shared by researchers at the WHO meeting, showing that booster shots of Moderna or Pfizer vaccines were able to lift the level of antibodies to what is believed to be sufficient to protect recipients from Omicron infection.

The information is based on preliminary research, but it has come as a ray of hope instead of the constant worry that has been surrounding the world ever since the variant has emerged, as per NYT, especially after it began to become clear that the variant has the ability to avoid antibodies, leading to a surge in cases across the world.

However, while for the NYT and the US, this might be a relief, considering the fact that the country has already begun providing booster shots to its citizens, this is a cause for concern in developing and underdeveloped countries. India, for example, has vaccinated a part of its population, but there is still a long way to go before it can fully vaccinate all of its eligible population. Meanwhile, many poverty-stricken nations barely have sufficient resources to vaccinate their citizens with the first two doses, let alone booster shots. The research has come at a time when the WHO and other nations were accusing developed nations like the US and the UK for hoarding vaccines and choosing to administer them to their already populated population in the form of booster doses, instead of sending them to underdeveloped nations.

Now, though, due to lack of vaccination, the infection had reached a stage where a new variant has emerged, which apparently makes it important for the entire world population to get a booster dose, sending the world into a vicious cycle.

While the developed nations, who were already reluctant to provide vaccines to nations in need, will now be more likely to continue to keep a hold of their vaccine doses to provide booster doses, the poverty-stricken nations will again have to look towards global health agencies like WHO for help. Meanwhile, India has been able to ramp up its production and was looking to export most of it to international community, considering the robust vaccination drive and the speedy vaccine coverage in the country. Now, though, if a booster dose is required and advised by WHO, then even India would have to divert a major portion of its production for booster doses of the citizens. This would mean less doses going out to nations in need, where low vaccine coverage would mean further spread of the virus and increased chances of further mutation of the virus.

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