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New Data Finds Booster Shot Crucial For Protection Against Omicron

New data finds that a third dose of the vaccine is pivotal for fighting breakthrough Omicron infections. Credit: Raimond Spekking, CC BY-SA 4.0

Data from new studies conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that a Covid-19 vaccine booster shot offers significant protection against serious infection from Omicron.

The omicron variant of Covid has become the most dominant strain in the world since it first emerged three months ago in South Africa. The CDC’s three new studys’ data is significant since it represents the first study conducted on Omicron using real-world information, tracking Covid-19 hospitalizations from August 2021 to January 2022, the window of time in which Omicron took over dominance from the Delta variant.

The first study found that two doses of an mRNA Covid vaccine were still 76 percent effective against the Delta variant six months after being administered, but that efficacy dropped to 38 percent against Omicron. A booster shot of the vaccine was found to cause protection against Omicron to rise to 82 percent.

The second study analyzed Covid-19 cases and deaths from April 2021 to December 2021. The study found that two doses of the vaccine cut down the risk of a fatal Covid-19 infection 12-fold and that a booster further reduced that risk to 53-fold.

“In 25 U.S.jurisdictions, decreases in case incidence rate ratios for unvaccinated versus fully vaccinated persons with and without vaccine doses were observed when the Omicron variant emerged in December 2021,” the authors of the study wrote. “Protection against infection and death during the Delta-predominant period against infection during Omicron emergence were higher among booster vaccine recipients, and especially among persons aged 50-64 and >65 years.”

The third study looked exclusively at 70,000 symptomatic Covid cases documented from December 2021 to early January 2022, the period in which Omicron cases surged. The study concluded that people with a booster dose of the vaccine were 66 percent less likely to contract a symptomatic case compared to those who only had two doses.

Models suggest Omicron may kill up to 300,000 people in the US

New models suggest that the milder but more infectious omicron variant will cause 50,000 to 300,000 deaths in the United States before March.

Although many studies show that Omicron causes less severe disease than past variants of Covid, the sheer infectiousness of the strain is likely to lead to more deaths.

“A lot of people are still going to die because of how transmissible omicron has been,” epidemiologist Jason Salemi told the Associated Press. “It unfortunately is going to get worse before it gets better.”

Although it seems counter-intuitive and difficult to conceive, experts believe that even a sliver of the high number of Omicron infections will bring an unprecedented number of deaths.

“Overall, you’re going to see more sick people even if you as an individual have a lower chance of being sick,” said Katriona Shea, to the Associated Press. Shea works with a team to amalgamate multiple pandemic models for the Biden Administration.

Shea believes that the oncoming deaths will peak at the end of this month or early February and perhaps push the overall US death toll past 1 million.


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