The new Omicron variant rises the concerns about what will happen in the upcoming period and how the vaccines are efficient when it comes to the new variant. The initial studies show that the Omicron variant has tens of mutations meaning that can ‘easily’ evade both the natural immunity and the vaccine immunity.
The efficacy of the vaccines has been a hot topic in the last couple of days and many experts advise that no one is actually safe when it comes to the new Omicron variant. What comes as a positive news is the fact that initial results of the variant show that those who contracted the virus have mild to no symptoms.
Since no one can say for sure how much protection the vaccines can offer right now, several health experts and even president Biden encourage Americans to get the booster dose of the vaccines claiming that the third dose by far improve the immunity and keeps people safe in most of the cases.
“This is good news this morning. The Pfizer lab report came back saying that the expectation is the existing vaccines protect against omicron, but if you get the booster, you’re really in good shape,” Biden told reporters outside the White House. “So that’s very encouraging.”
According to the results of the study conducted by the Pfizer themselves, those with two doses of the vaccines show decreasing number of antibodies, while that was not the case with those who already got their booster dose.
“Although two doses of the vaccine may still offer protection against severe disease caused by the Omicron strain, it’s clear from these preliminary data that protection is improved with a third dose of our vaccine,” said Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla.
However, antibody levels are not the only indicator of vaccine effectiveness, and omicron did not appear to affect T cell levels, which are vital to preventing severe disease. The company’s data is consistent with new findings from South Africa that indicate the omicron variant has some ability to evade both natural and vaccine-induced immunity.
Scientists at the Africa Health Research Institute were able to prove that those who were vaccinated with two doses of the Pfizer vaccine didn’t have sufficient number of antibodies and their response was not strong enough against the virus. However, those who contracted the virus and recovered and then got the vaccines showed very strong immune response against the Omicron variant.
“This was better than I expected of omicron,” said lead researcher Alex Sigal, noting that the variant did not completely escape vaccine protection.
While health experts around the world are working around the clock in an effort to find out more about the new variant, Pfizer and Moderna already announced they are working on new, upgraded types of their vaccines specifically designed to combat the Omicron variant. Although changing their vaccines is easy and relatively fast process compared to the other vaccines on the market, it still will take months until they are fully developed and approved by the health officials.
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