Omicron tracker: Study finds protection increases with booster shots; record Covid cases in UK – The Indian Express

January 14, 2022
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None of the three approved Covid-19 vaccines in the United States — Moderna, Pfizer/BioNTech and Johnson & Johnson — offer sufficient protection against the Omicron variant with their routine doses, but the protection does increase with booster shots, a new study has found.
The study, conducted by researchers at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), Harvard and MIT, found “low to absent” antibody neutralisation of the Omicron variant with the routine doses, Reuters reported. Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines have to be taken in two doses, while Johnson and Johnson is a single shot vaccine.
The study, however, found that people who had received booster doses showed potent neutralisation, Reuters said.
Anthony Fauci, a top health expert in the United States, said the fact that booster doses of existing vaccines were effective against the Omicron variant, even though a little feeble than against other variants, should convince everyone about the need to get vaccinated. He said there was no need to start developing an Omicron-specific vaccine at this stage.
“Our booster vaccine regimens work against Omicron. At this point, there is no need for a variant-specific booster… If you are unvaccinated, you are very vulnerable — not only to the existing Delta surge we are experiencing, but also to Omicron,” Fauci was quoted by The Washington Post as saying.
Meanwhile, England’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty warned of difficult times ahead for the country, which has been experiencing the fastest spread of the Omicron variant. The United Kingdom, on Wednesday, reported over 78,160 new cases of coronavirus infection, a new record for a 24-hour period. The confirmed cases of Omicron infection has crossed 10,000.
Professor Whitty warned the UK should be ready for records to be broken several times in the coming days. He said the health system needed to be prepared for large number of hospitalisations as well.
“I’m afraid there will be an increasing number of Omicron patients going into the NHS (National Health Service, UK’s public healthcare system), going into hospital, going into intensive care. The exact ratios we don’t yet know, but there will be substantial numbers and that will begin to become apparent, in my view, fairly soon after Christmas. It will start before then but, in terms of the big numbers, I think that’s a reasonably, I’m afraid, a reasonably nailed on prospect,” Whitty was quoted as saying by Sky News.
The Chief of the UK Health Security Agency, Dr Jenny Harries, said Omicron variant represented “probably the most significant threat” since the start of the pandemic.
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Amitabh SinhaAmitabh Sinha is Resident Editor, Pune. He writes on Environment, Clim… read more

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