Booster Shots Appear To Offer Protection Against Omicron COVID-19 Variant

Preliminary laboratory research by Pfizer/BioNTech finds that a third booster shot of its COVID-19 vaccine successfully neutralizes—that is, blocks—the omicron variant of the virus from entering and infecting cells. Researchers tested the new variant against the antibodies that were produced one month following inoculation with the third booster dose from Pfizer/BioNTech. The researchers report that Omicron’s new variant has a higher level of antibodies than the two previous doses. The high levels of these antibodies are associated with high efficacy both against wild-type and variant viruses.

The company released initial laboratory results in a press release. It also noted that antibodies made after receiving two doses of vaccine are 25% less likely than those produced for coronavirus earlier forms. Nevertheless, the researchers believe that two doses of the vaccine may sufficiently prime T-cells, the next level of immune response, that people may still be protected against severe forms of the disease.

This is in addition to the less positive preliminary research that South Africa published earlier this week. It tested the omicron version against antibodies generated by two groups of participants, one who received two doses Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, and the other who were previously infected using an older COVID-19 variant.

According to the researchers, the effectiveness of two doses vaccine in neutralizing the omicron virus was reduced by 40 percent. However, the ability of antibodies produced by two doses of vaccine to neutralize the Omicron variant was higher in five people who had previously been exposed to an earlier variant. Researchers suggest that a previous infection followed by booster vaccinations or vaccinations is likely to raise the level of neutralization and possibly confer protection against severe Omicron infections.

Remember that these laboratory results are only preliminary. Real-world epidemiological evidence is needed to confirm the findings with regard to severe disease and breakthrough infections. However, the results show that anyone who has received at least two COVID-19 vaccinations and/or is recovering from an existing COVID-19 infected should be vaccinated again.

The vaccine industry is already developing tweaks to inoculations in order to target this specific variant of the micron. They could be ready for use as soon as March 2022. The COVID-19 variant virus rollercoaster will encourage vaccine manufacturers to develop and deploy universal influenza and coronavirus vaccines, and, despite all the evidence, it is possible to hope for rapid regulatory approval.

Disclosure: In late October, I combined my Moderna vaccines with a Pfizer booster.