Do we need boosters to fight Omicron? Divided Experts – National – .

Do we need boosters to fight Omicron? Divided Experts – National – .

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As researchers learn more about the Omicron variant of COVID-19, some say booster shots increasingly sound like a good idea to help fight the pandemic.

“If it weren’t for Omicron in the photo, I think two doses would have been enough for us,” said Sabina Vohra-Miller, founder of Unambiguous Science, a health information organization, although the Health authorities “strongly” recommend Canadians 50 and over. receive the reminder to protect against Delta.

“Now that Omicron is there, it will be important to ensure that Canadians are protected against this variant. “

The Tipping Point is a collection of new studies that appear to show that the Omicron variant is better able to evade the protection provided by two doses than previous COVID-19 variants.

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Booster dose of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine neutralizes Omicron variant, company says

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In the vaccine makers’ first official statement on Wednesday about the likely effectiveness of their injection against Omicron, BioNTech and Pfizer said two doses of the vaccine resulted in a significant decrease in neutralizing antibodies, but a third dose of their vaccine increased neutralizing antibodies by a factor of 25.

Blood obtained from people who had their third booster shots a month ago neutralized the Omicron variant about as effectively as blood after two doses fought the original virus first identified in China, reported indicated the companies.

Omicron COVID-19 variant may partially escape Pfizer vaccine protection, South African study finds

Omicron COVID-19 variant may partially escape Pfizer vaccine protection, South African study finds

At the same time, a preliminary study published Tuesday by researchers at the Africa Health Research Institute in South Africa also indicated that Omicron could partially escape protection against two doses of the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine and suggested that a third injection could help fight infection. The study was not peer reviewed.

There is no significant data yet on how vaccines from Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and other drugmakers are resistant to the new variant, but they are expected to release their own data in a few weeks.

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Canadians 18 and older should be offered a COVID-19 booster 6 months after 2nd injection: NACI

Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) said last week that all adults could be offered a vaccine booster, citing evidence suggesting that protection against SARS-CoV-2 infection is waning. over time after two doses of the vaccine.

Does Omicron strengthen the case for boosters?

Adding new variants to the mix strengthens the case for boosters, said Jason Kindrachuk, assistant professor and Canada Research Chair in Emerging Viruses at the University of Manitoba.

“Not only do we see what is normally going on for us with regard to the decrease in antibodies, but we also have to understand that the virus has changed,” he said.

“I think what you’re seeing is definitely more of a call to arms that we need to get out the third doses. It is important for us to be able to deal with a potential Omicron attack and to be certainly prepared if we are to potentially see this. “

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New real-world data from Denmark suggests that many people who have already received two doses of the vaccine are infected with Omicron, and the country has reimposed some restrictions to deal with a new outbreak of COVID-19. South African scientists have also reported an apparent drop in immunity with Omicron.

Read more:

Omicron COVID-19 variant a red flag for vaccine makers, experts warn

Vohra-Miller noted that studies of the Pfizer vaccine contain good news for people who receive two doses. Although neutralizing antibodies appear to be affected by Omicron, she said, that’s not the whole picture of immunity.

“The studies also show – and this is the good news – that T cells are largely spared, which means that even with two doses of Pfizer, we will still see protection against serious illness. So that’s great news, ”she said.

It’s helpful, Kindrachuk said, but it still means people could get infected and pass the virus on to others.

“This is a concern for us because we are in this period where we certainly do not have 100% immunity among our populations,” he said, meaning unvaccinated people or people with weakened immune systems could still be at risk for serious infections.

Health officials urge Manitobans to get COVID-19 vaccine after first case of Omicron variant is detected

Health officials urge Manitobans to get COVID-19 vaccine after first case of Omicron variant is detected

Omar Khan, professor of biomedical engineering and immunology at the University of Toronto, said we need more information before deciding whether third doses are really necessary.

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“Part of the information that is fueling the conversation around getting a third dose is whether or not our current level of immunization protects us against serious illness, and we still need to figure that out a bit more,” a- he declared.

Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, Dr Soumya Swaminathan, chief scientist for the World Health Organization, said it was “premature” to conclude that third doses would be needed to treat the variant. Omicron, in particular based on these small studies.

“There’s still a lot of work to do and then of course it’s just one element, just the neutralizing antibodies, and we really don’t have any information on the effectiveness,” he said. she declared.

It’s also possible that we just want to update the vaccine rather than giving a booster dose with the same formulation, Khan said. Pfizer said on Wednesday they could do so by March 2022 if necessary.

Booster doses could be useful in fighting the pandemic, said Dr Kate O’Brien, WHO director of immunization, vaccines and biologics, but they are not the most important part.

“No matter how you look at it, the primary doses always exceed the booster doses for those at risk,” she said.

“The main focus here should be to make sure that everyone who has not yet had a primary series of immunizations has access to this vaccine and gets immunized. “

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– with files from Jamie Mauracher of Global News and Reuters

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© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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