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Early research suggests Omicron may escape booster dose as well

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A new preprint study says that the novel coronavirus Omicron variant significantly impairs the ability of vaccines from the four major brands – including booster doses – in preventing infection.

In this study, Columbia University researchers looked at the blood of people who had been vaccinated with two doses of vaccines made by Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca, as well as boosters made by the first two companies.

In comparison to the original Covid-19 strand, they discovered a 21-fold reduction in antibodies neutralizing Omicron in samples from persons who received two doses of Pfizer vaccine. In samples from those who had two doses of the Moderna shot, the drop was 8.6-fold.

Even worse, according to the study presented on Wednesday, antibodies were so low in samples of individuals who had two doses of the Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca vaccines that they couldn’t be detected. That suggests that the immunizations didn’t offer any protection against the Omicron strain.

According to a study by David Ho and 20 other researchers at New York University, the ‘extensive’ mutations of the Omicron strain can ‘greatly undermine’ the efficiency of all four major vaccines.

When compared to the original strain, patients who received a booster shot saw a decline in antibodies that was 6.5 times lower for the Omicron variant. According to the study, this means that Omicron “may still pose a risk” for individuals who are boosted.

“These findings are in line with emerging clinical data on the Omicron variant demonstrating higher rates of reinfection and vaccine breakthroughs,” the researchers wrote. 

“Even a third booster shot may not adequately protect against Omicron infection.”

It’s one of the most recent studies to find that the Omicron variant, as opposed to the original strain and the Delta variant, appears to be able to spread swiftly and escape vaccine protection more easily.

The Columbia researchers emphasized that the study could lead to future dangers associated with the Omicron variant.

“It is not too far-fetched to think that this (Covid-19) is now only a mutation or two away from being pan-resistant to current antibodies,” the scientists wrote. 

“We must devise strategies that anticipate the evolutional direction of the virus and develop agents that target better conserved viral elements.”

Source: https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.12.14.472719

Image Credit: GEtty

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