Omicron-specific boosters fail to show benefit over original shots, study finds

by Abigail Adcox, Healthcare Reporter October 25, 2022 Washington Examiner

who had received three shots with the original formula and a fourth shot of Moderna’s or Pfizer-BioNTech’s omicron booster compared to 19 people who had received four shots targeting the original strain.

The study suggests that the omicron booster may not protect people from getting infected with the highly transmissible subvariant BA.5, which accounts for most COVID-19 cases in the U.S. currently, any more than the previous shots, despite the updated boosters being formulated to provide better protection against infection and severe disease against the current strains.

“When given as a fourth dose, a bivalent mRNA vaccine targeting Omicron BA.4/BA.5 and an ancestral SARS-CoV-2 strain did not induce superior neutralizing antibody responses in humans, at the time period tested, compared to the original monovalent vaccine formulation,” the researchers wrote.

The updated boosters have a new vaccine formula that targets both the original strain of the virus from 2020 and the omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5.

While researchers noted that further follow-up studies were needed, the results are some of the first tracking how the omicron booster stands against previous ones. It also starkly differs from early data released by vaccine manufacturers Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna earlier this month from clinical trials. Pfizer-BioNTech said that their omicron booster showed a “substantial increase” in antibody levels compared to pre-booster levels.

Moderna also said early data from clinical trials indicated that the omicron booster had a “superior immune response.”

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