The evidence is hard to oppose with a straight face: getting a booster dose of Moderna or Pfizer’s mRNA-based vaccine enhances the immune response against Omicron. The latest study to illustrate the effectiveness of a third dose was published in the journal Cell earlier this week. The study showed that an mRNA booster dramatically improves immune protection against Omicron.
However, evidence also shows that breakthrough infections of Omicron can spring up in the fully vaccinated.
Mutations on the variant’s spike protein have endowed it with the ability to escape some of the immunity afforded by the booster.
This is evident in the observations of an increased incidence of reinfections and breakthrough infections.
A study published in The Lancet on Tuesday documented the impact of Omicron on seven boosted individuals.
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A group of German visitors (five women and two men, with an average age of 27) who had received three doses of Covid vaccines, including at least two doses of an mRNA vaccine, experienced breakthrough infections with Omicron between late November and early December, 2021, while in Cape Town, South Africa.
Four of the individuals were participating in clinical elective training at different hospitals in Cape Town, whereas the others were on vacation.
The individuals were members of two unlinked social groups and participated in regular social life in Cape Town, in compliance with applicable COVID-19 protocols.
During a marked increase in incidence of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) infections in the Western Cape province, these individuals observed onset of respiratory symptoms between November 30 and December 2nd 2021, according to the researchers.
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Omicron UK latest
Omicron appears to be retreating in the UK, a trend that reflects the high levels of natural and vaccine-induced immunity across the country.
Cases are dropping in all regions apart from North East, where the increase is already slowing and should start dropping soon, ZOE data suggests.
The ZOE Covid Study incidence figures (new symptomatic cases) are based on reports from around 840,000 weekly contributors and the proportion of newly symptomatic users who have received positive swab tests.
The latest survey figures were based on data from 62,517 recent swab tests done on symptomatic cases in the two weeks up to 10 January 2022.
Daily new symptomatic cases are now going down in all age groups.
The rise in the over 75’s seen in previous weeks is now plateauing at low levels, the ZOE data suggests.
Professor Tim Spector, lead scientist on the ZOE COVID Study app, comments on the latest data: “The ZOE data suggests the Omicron wave has peaked, and cases are starting to come down in almost all regions of the UK. Hospitalisation, deaths and early data on the severity of Omicron is also looking positive. The other reassuring sign is that cases in the elderly are plateauing at a low level, sparing this more vulnerable group from the worst of the Omicron wave. This is likely because this group has been more careful and others are being careful around them.
“However, we can’t rule out an uptick in children, which could then have a knock on effect on the other age groups. In terms of guidance, working from home remains an easy thing many of us can do to slow spread, and wearing high quality masks on public transport to me still feels sensible. Covid symptoms are now for the first time this winter more common than colds and flu and are indistinguishable. I don’t expect these rates to go down to zero as Omicron is so infectious that it will probably continue to circulate at manageable levels in the population until late spring.”