Experts think that since the omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus has too many mutations, it will spread quickly. There's still uncertainty regarding the omicron variant. A lot of research is underway to evaluate its transmissibility, severity, and reinfection risk. The vaccines helped quell the COVID-9 pandemic and people are looking towards vaccines again in hopes that they will help slow the spread of the omicron variant too. Which vaccines are effective against the omicron variant?
Just as the world was getting back to pre-pandemic normal, the omicron variant has paralyzed worldwide activity. The omicron variant is a COVID-19 variant that was initially identified in COVID-19 patients in Botswana and South Africa. It has been called a "variant of concern" by WHO based on evidence that the variant has several mutations.
The omicron variant is impact people who are “fully vaccinated.”
The omicron variant has been infecting people who have been vaccinated with two COVID-19 shots. Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Joe Biden's chief medical adviser, told CNBC on Dec. 17 that the new variant “has the unfortunate capability of spreading very, very efficiently.”
The omicron variant's ability to invade the immune systems of fully vaccinated people has forced health officials to reexamine what it means to be “fully vaccinated.” The CDC might have to change the definition from getting two Moderna or Pfizer shots or one Johnson & Johnson shot to getting an additional booster shot.
Do booster shots help prevent the omicron variant?
The omicron variant, which has now been reported in more than 80 countries, has increased the demand for booster shots and vaccines for kids. Dr. Fauci also mentioned that boosters can help guard against infection and lessen symptoms.
However, Bloomberg News reported that according to the preliminary study out of South Africa, the Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine might produce "virtually no antibody protection" against the omicron variant.
The results from a recent study suggest that Sinovac’s vaccine has low efficacy in protecting against the omicron variant. However, it's important to point out that “the studies are preliminary, and antibody levels do not give a complete picture of a person’s immune response,” according to The New York Times.
Pfizer and Moderna booster shots might help increase overall protection from the omicron variant.
Pfizer Chairman Albert Bourla mentioned that while two doses will still offer protection against severe disease caused by the omicron strain, preliminary data suggest that protection is improved with the third dose of the vaccine. A study shows that two doses of Pfizer's vaccine were 70 percent protective against severe disease caused by the omicron variant.
Similarly, Dr. Fauci presented data from a preliminary study by the National Institutes of Health, which highlighted how the Moderna vaccine booster offers 19x more neutralizing protection against the omicron variant compared to two shots. Moderna is also reportedly working on an omicron-specific booster vaccine. The CDC has authorized the Moderna booster, which is a 50-microgram dose compared to the 100 micrograms dose of each of the first two shots.
When can you get a COVID-19 booster?
Adults who got the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines should get a booster shot six months after their second shot. People who got Johnson & Johnson's vaccine should get the booster two months after the first shot. All adults can get any COVID-19 vaccine as a booster.
Therefore, as the world looks to get back to normal, booster shots might be the first step towards getting us back to where we were prior to the emergence of the omicron variant.