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How Well Does the COVID Booster Protect Against Omicron?


How Well Does the COVID Booster Protect Against Omicron?

With omicron still causing hundreds of thousands of new COVID cases each day, it’s understandable that, for some people, getting infected is starting to feel inevitable. Getting a COVID booster may be the best thing you can do to protect yourself. 

As SELF has reported, vaccines are the best way to prevent severe COVID outcomes like hospitalization and death. But research also shows that vaccine protection may wane over time. Enter the need for a third dose to boost antibody levels back up. As the omicron variant began to surge, it became especially clear that two doses may not be enough to keep you from getting the highly contagious variant. In December, vaccine makers Pfizer and BioNTech released research which found that while two doses of the vaccine still offered protection against “severe forms of the disease,” they were significantly less effective at preventing infection. 

As omicron has continued to spread—it’s now responsible for 99.9% of all COVID infections in the U.S., per CNN—scientists have been working to figure out just how well the COVID booster protects against mild infections as well as severe COVID outcomes. This week, vaccine maker Moderna published a new study in the New England Journal of Medicine, which found two important things: Six months after the booster shot, antibody protection had waned, but ultimately it was still effective in protecting against the virus. 

Moderna’s study found, similar to the results of the Pfizer BioNTech study, that anti-COVID antibodies waned significantly in the months after the second vaccine dose. In analyzing blood samples of people who received the Moderna vaccine, researchers found that antibody levels capable of neutralizing omicron were found in 85% of people a month after their second dose. But by seven months, neutralization of omicron was found in only 55% of people. Getting a third dose turned things around somewhat. Researchers reported a 20-fold increase in omicron-neutralizing antibodies a month after the booster. 

But did the booster protection eventually wane as well? It did, according to the study, but not by as much. Six months…

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