Amid Omicron threat, UK study finds booster shots useful
- Scientists in UK conducted a study on the real-life impact of booster shots
- The team found that booster shots for most vaccines did work
- Concerns regarding the Omicron variant has brought the focus on boosters
With the Omicron variant of the coronavirus on the rise and speculation within the scientific community that the highly-mutative variant may elude vaccine protection, scientists across the world have started working on booster shots that can help fight the variant. A UK study testing seven different COVID-19 vaccines found that most of them increased antibodies, with shots from Moderna Inc and the Pfizer Inc-BioNTech SE partnership performing best.
There were, however, large variations between antibody and cellular immune responses of the different vaccines, with the biggest boost seen from the messenger-RNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna. The antibody levels were quantified four weeks after the booster shot was given.
Booster shots for COVID-19 vaccinations have been considered and approved by several countries already. Now, with a new variant on the block, the need for booster shots is being more acutely felt. Several countries like the United States and Israel approved booster shots even before the Omicron variant was detected in South Africa's Gauteng province.
For this new study, seven vaccines have been tried. The study found that all seven vaccines were safe to use as third doses. Only the Valneva SE vaccine, which is still in trials and has not been authorised for use yet, did not show any increase in antibodies after a third dose. This, however, was only tested on 100 people.
The other vaccines tested include the ones produced by Johnson & Johnson, CureVac NV and Novovax Inc. The doses were administered 10 to 12 weeks after a second dose of AstraZeneca or Pfizer vaccines.
Initially, countries were considering booster doses only for immunocompromised or older patients, however, the spread of the Omicron variant may push more countries the booster way. Moderna, the US pharmaceutical giant that produces one of the main COVID-19 vaccines in use in the United States, has already announced that it is possible that their current vaccine may not work on the Omicron variant and the firm also seeks to have a new vaccine ready by January.