With the new Omicron variant on the rampage around the world, there is a lot of concern as to the effectiveness of vaccines. While Pfizer/BioNTech has expressed its confidence that a third jab is ‘still effective’ against Omicron, you can’t help but wonder, how about the others?
Well, now, people who were jabbed with a Moderna booster can relax, because the American manufacturer recently reassured the public that its booster shot was effective against the Omicron variant, after the announcement of laboratory results it described as “reassuring.”
As per Reuters, the current version of the booster continue to be its “first line of defense against Omicron.” In fact, the company’s decision to focus on the jab, mRNA-1273, was driven in part by how quickly the new variant is spreading across the globe.
Like other vaccine manufacturers, Moderna is currently focused on developing a vaccine specifically for Omicron. They’re hoping to start clinical trials by next year. Their target is to have the new booster ready by March, pending approval from regulators.
“What we have available right now is 1273,” Dr. Paul Burton, Moderna’s chief medical officer, said in an interview. “It’s highly effective, and it’s extremely safe. I think it will protect people through the coming holiday period and through these winter months when we’re going to see the most severe pressure of Omicron.”
Moderna explained that a two-dose course wasn’t very successful in generating antibodies against Omicron. However, a 50-microgram booster dose increased neutralizing antibodies against the variant 37 fold. A 100-microgram booster – the same strength as the original shots – drove neutralizing antibodies to more than 80 times pre-boost levels.
As of now, the current recommendation is to give 100 micrograms of the Moderna jab as a first and second dose for protection from COVID-19, followed by a 50-microgram booster. Given how potent the vaccine is, it’s not ideal to receive more than 100 micrograms.
With this development, vaccine manufacturers expect that getting ‘seasonal boosting’ may be part of the future. This means people should get used to getting vaccinated every few months to protect themselves from COVID-19.
At the same time, it might not be wise to make overseas travel plans in 2022. Until the Omicron variant situation (and the global pandemic, for that matter) is contained, it’s best to still practice caution and of course, get vaccinated if you can.
Art Macky Arquilla