Omicron’s speedy rise is what bothers researchers the most. This new coronavirus variant has significant mutations when compared to previous versions of the virus. It may or may not overcome immunity from vaccines or prior infections. However, it takes weeks for the data to come in on whether this is actually happening.
Experts’ Opinion on Booster Dose
Experts suspect an omicron booster dose would be eventually necessary. The vaccines have already held up moderately well against the delta variant. The protection against severe illness (hospitalization or death) continued to be strong for most people with the two-dose regimen. That is seen as proof that the existing vaccines may perform well against omicron, too, even with its numerous mutations. Note that the impact of a booster shot offers comprehensive protection against different variants, including omicron. The higher the antibody response to the virus, the broader protection you will have.
According to recent studies in the USA regarding booster effects for mRNA vaccine support, a third dose can increase the antibody response to vaccination. And a higher antibody response will likely include more antibodies that can cross-protect against the variant viruses.
Booster Dose in India
According to ICMR, there was no scientific proof that allows administering a booster vaccine dose to those who are fully vaccinated. The health ministry is focusing more on vaccines for all adults than on giving booster shots. According to media reports, the government may take the decision of booster dose based solely on scientific recommendations.
When we talk about the USA, over 65 million people are non-vaccinated and the government has approved a booster shot for all above 65 years and certain categories of young adults. Many European countries have also approved booster shots. Many countries in Europe have also approved booster shots, based on decisions at least partially on vaccine effectiveness data.
According to a recent study, Covishield is 85% protective against moderate or severe disease and 63% protective against symptomatic infection. On the other hand, Covaxin is 50% effective against symptomatic infection.
Since the effectiveness of both vaccines against the Omicron variant is going on, it is not clear that these vaccines will be protective against the new variant. In addition to this, Omicron seems to be more transmissible than the Delta variant, disease severity and the age group most vulnerable to disease is unknown.
While there is a lot we do not know about the lately COVID-19 variant, current vaccines could be sufficient. Once the scientists come with evidence, the government may decide whether or not the booster shot should be given. The recent surge of the Omicron variant (B.1.1.529) further highlights the significance of vaccination, boosters, and prevention efforts required for protection against COVID-19.
The most effective ways to stay protected against the Omicron are to wear masks whenever you are going out, use sanitizer or wash hands frequently, avoid going into crowds and maintain physical distance.