About eight out of 10 people who have caught the Omicron variant of COVID-19 were fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Just 20% of COVID-19 cases caused by the Omicron variant, based on an examination of diagnoses from December 1-8. There were 43 cases attributed to Omicron; 34 were among people who had been “fully vaccinated.” What’s more, one-third of the 34 had also received a third “booster” shot. Just one of those suffering from Omicron was briefly hospitalized.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, an immunologist and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases who serves as President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser on COVID-19, now says “the early data indicates that Omicron may not pose as great a risk of serious illness as the Delta variant, but stressed that further information is needed before he can definitively confirm that,” the Mail reported.
Fauci said federal officials are “continuing to evaluate” whether to urge Americans to get a booster shot to be considered fully vaccinated for COVID-19. “For official requirements, it’s still two shots of the mRNA and one shot of the J&J for the official determination of what’s required or not,” Fauci told ABC News on Sunday.
“But I think if you look at the data, the more and more it becomes clear that if you want to be optimally protected you really should get a booster,” Fauci added.
“I think we’ll be continuing to evaluate what the official designation is” to be considered fully vaccinated, he said.
Asked whether further annual boosters will be needed, Fauci said it was “tough to tell.”
“If it becomes necessary to get yet another boost, then we’ll just have to deal with it when that occurs,” he said.
Last Wednesday, Pfizer-BioNTech reported that initial results from studies examining how well their vaccine protects against a new coronavirus variant found that a booster shot — on top of a two-dose vaccine regimen — neutralizes Omicron in lab studies.
The pharmaceutical company said that just two shots showed decreased protection in studies, but a booster dose significantly raises protection.
“According to the companies’ preliminary data, a third dose provides a similar level of neutralizing antibodies to Omicron as is observed after two doses against wild-type and other variants that emerged before Omicron,” they said in a press release.
“These antibody levels are associated with high efficacy against both the wild-type virus and these variants. A third dose also strongly increases CD8+ T cell levels against multiple spike protein epitopes, which are considered to correlate with the protection against severe disease. Compared to the wild-type virus, the vast majority of these epitopes remain unchanged in the Omicron spike variant,” the release said.
In plain English, blood samples from people who have had a booster showed “25-fold higher levels of neutralizing antibodies against Omicron compared to blood serum from people immunized with just two doses,” Time magazine reported. “Essentially, the booster brought levels of these virus-fighting antibodies back to those seen after two doses against the original virus strain. More durable immune responses involving T cells were also higher against Omicron after a booster dose.”
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