How effective are the Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccines against Omicron?

The Omicron Variation of Covid-19 has begun to spread in UK, with Boris Johnson warn of a “tide wave” of infections hitting these shores if the public disobeys social restrictions and receives booster shots of their vaccines as a matter of urgency. .

On Monday, the UK confirmed its first death from the new variant globally while the Health Secretary Sajid Javid It is estimated that the rate of Omicron infections is already around 200,000 per day, with the strain expected to become dominant in London within 48 hours.

NHS UK while it has been announced that it will return to its highest level of emergency preparedness, national incident level four, meaning the NHS response to Omicron will be coordinated as a national effort instead because directed by individual trusts.

Confirmed cases of Covid have since spiked to 78,610 in the latest count, with daily deaths reaching 165.

Announcing the new “Plan B” social restrictions last Wednesday, the prime minister said the variant’s infection rate could double every two to three days due to the fact that it has the potential highly contagious, so the decision was made to provide booster shots to everyone. adults in late December.

Are vaccines effective against Omicron?

Latest analysis by the UK government’s Health Security Agency indicates that two stabs of Covid does not provide strong protection against symptomatic infection from the new variant, with the current set being Vaccine less effective than they were against Delta.

However, those who have already received the booster shot are still protected by up to 70%, according to the agency, stressing the importance of getting a third shot as soon as possible.

Earlier results from studies conducted by the German Center for Infection Research also showed that antibody potency was significantly reduced against Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and Oxford /AstraZeneca vaccine against Omicron.

But two doses of the vaccine still provide some protection from serious illness, with World Health Organization suggests that “current vaccines are still effective against severe illness and death.”

Professor Ugur Sahin, CEO and co-founder of BioNTech, said last week: “Individus who have received two vaccines are unlikely to offer significant protection from infection or any kind of infection. which disease. We knew they would have memory T cells, which could prevent serious illness.”

In the first official press conference from vaccine manufacturers on how effective their shots are against Omicron, Professor Sahin said that accelerating booster programs was “a challenge”. right way to go” and suggested that an additional dose of the vaccine would likely make up for a vaccine that was less well-suited to fight Covid, compared with earlier strains of the virus.

Another preliminary study from the African Institute for Health Research in South Africa, published on Tuesday, December 7, found a 41-fold decrease in antibody potency after two doses of Pfizer against Omicron.

Although these results suggest a “much broader exit,” the researchers wrote that “previous infection followed by vaccination or booster vaccination is likely to increase the degree of neutralization and has the potential to protect against serious illness caused by Omicron infections.”

Professor Alex Sigal, a professor at the African Institute of Medical Research, said on Twitter that the results were “better than I expected for Omicron”, adding: “The reality is that it still needs the ACE2 receptor and the escape Incomplete output means it can handle the problem with tools [we have] understand.”

Are some vaccines more effective than others?

A small study has suggested that the Omicron coronavirus variant may better evade the protection of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine than the original Covid virus.

Professor Sigal said there appeared to be a “huge drop” in immunity to the new variant among people vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine, after his lab studied blood samples from 12 people who had already been vaccinated. received this vaccine.

Moderna has yet to release any official results on the shot’s effectiveness against Omicron but the company’s president, Dr Stephen Hoge, said it was highly unlikely that the current vaccine would protect against the variant. this.

Speaking to ABC News on December 5, Dr Hoge said: “I think there’s a real risk that we’re going to see a decrease in the effectiveness of the vaccine. What I don’t know is the severity of the vaccine. how is it”.

Will a new Omicron vaccine be released?

Vaccine manufacturers have said that they will continue “at full speed” with plans to develop an updated Omicron-based vaccine, which will be available by March 2022 if needed.

Pfizer has said that if needed, it can produce a vaccine suitable for Omicron in “about 100 days”.

On a similar topic, Professor Sahin said: “We continue to work on an adaptive vaccine that we believe will provide a high level of protection against the Covid-19 disease caused by Omicron as well. such as extending the time of protection compared to current vaccines. ”

Meanwhile, Moderna’s chief medical officer, Dr Paul Burton, said last week that his company would take three months to produce a vaccine specifically targeted at Omicron.

Johnson & Johnson is currently testing a vaccine against Omicron with Dr Mathai Mammen, the company’s global head of research and development, said in a statement: “We have begun research to establish design and develop a new vaccine against Omicron and will rapidly develop it into clinical studies if needed”.

However, the company has yet to give a timeline for vaccine development.

AstraZeneca has not revealed whether it needs to develop a new vaccine against Omicron.

However, Professor Sarah Gilbert of the University of Oxford, who helped create AstraZeneca’s current shot, has said that existing coronavirus vaccines, regardless of who manufactures them, are unlikely to work well against back to Omicron.

“Until we know more, we should be cautious and take steps to slow the spread of this new variant,” she told. BBC.

How many spikes will we need?

Preliminary Pfizer lab data suggest that three doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine are likely to protect against infection from the Omicron variant, although this has yet to be reviewed.

Two doses of the vaccine can prevent severe illness but cannot guarantee to prevent people from contracting Covid.

Albert Bourla, CEO of Pfizer, suggests that a fourth dose of the vaccine may be needed to better protect against Omicron.

Speaking on CNBC’s Box of SquawBourla said the company is waiting to see real-world data to decide if additional special dosages are needed to combat Omicron.

“When we see real-world data, [we] will determine if Omicron is well covered by the third dose and for how long. And the second point, I think we’re going to need a fourth dose,” he said.

He went on to suggest that data could be expected in the next two weeks.

What are the symptoms of Omicron?

Omicrons often cause mild symptoms, so it can be difficult to tell if you have Covid or just a common cold.

Symptoms, such as a stuffy nose, headache and sore throat can apply to both Covid and a cold, so it can be difficult to tell apart without testing.

Professor Tim Spector, from the UK Covid Zoe app, says data from a recent Zoe study shows that around half of Delta cases are being “missed” because they don’t present with symptoms “classic” Covid fever, new and persistent. cough and loss or change in smell or taste.

“Omicron is probably much more similar to the mild variants we are seeing in people who have been vaccinated with Delta than any other type,” he said. How effective are the Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccines against Omicron?


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