Vaccines and booster doses can offer protection from the fast spreading Omicron variant to a certain extent but the variant will still witness many breakthrough infections among the vaccinated population and those already affected with alpha or delta variants, said a flurry of new research on the new mutant virus.
The World Health Organization held a meeting on Wednesday where scientists cited several studies that found T cells in vaccinated people can defend against the variant helping in preventing severe disease, hospitalization or death, reported The New York Times.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, US President’s Joe Biden’s top medical adviser of Covid-19 also shared a preliminary data from National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases analysis of Moderna vaccine. The report showed negligible protection of Covid vaccine from Omicron after two shots but considerable increase in antibody response on a third dose. Making the case for booster dose stronger.
Other WHO meetings also presented similar results showing booster shots of both Pfizer mRNA and Moderna vaccines that were mostly administered in the US can increase the antibody response to offer protection against the infection.
The research, although based on preliminary analysis of cells in laboratory set-up, is a big respite from all the harrowing concerns over the new variant. In the past few weeks it was established that omicron can evade antibodies, the body’s first line of defense explaining that infections with the new variant have spread in countries with relatively high vaccination rates. But apart from antibodies, T cells also have their own role in defending the body from infections.
Scientists from South Africa last week reported that two doses of Pfizer vaccine can be 33 per cent effective against Omicron, a huge fall from 80 per cent effectiveness of tha vaccines before the new variant emerged. but the study also found that two doses offer 70 per cent protection against severe disease, hospitalization or death.
Fauci concluded that the way out is to vaccinate more people and for those who are vaccinated a booster shot is what is recommended in the ‘era of omicron.’