Booster Doses are Powerful, May Fight Omicron, Researchers Find

Last week researchers at Northwestern University calculated that one week after a Covid-19 booster shot, median antibody levels were 23 times higher than before the shot. This Thursday the Times of London reported that another study found similar results: Booster jabs "massively" strengthen the body's defences against Covid, according to key results that have raised hopes of strong protection from the Omicron variant. A third dose not only increased antibody levels thirtyfold, but roughly tripled levels of T-cells, a part of the immune system that experts believe could be the critical weapon against the heavily mutated Omicron strain. Professor Saul Faust, who led the study, emphasized to the Guardian that "These are remarkably effective immunological boosters, way above what is needed to prevent hospitalisation and death." And speaking to The Week, Faust also added that "This T-cell response gives us hope," because although Omicron was not specifically analysed during the research, their data suggested the triggered T-cells "are recognising a much broader range of antigens that might... be common to all of the variants." And earlier this week long-time Slashdot reader destinyland shared more booster/Omicron news from The Hill: On Sunday, former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb, who sits on Pfizer's board of directors, said vaccine developers have "a pretty good degree of confidence" that people who have received booster doses on top of their initial COVID-19 vaccinations are protected against omicron. "If you talk to people in vaccine circles, people who are working on a vaccine, they have a pretty good degree of confidence that a boosted vaccine, so three full doses of vaccine, is going to be fairly protective against this new variant," he said. Meanwhile, new Omicron-specific vaccines are also just months away, Business Insider reports: Pfizer said it will be able to manufacture and distribute an updated version of its COVID-19 vaccine within 100 days if the new variant Omicron is found to be resistant to its current vaccine... "Pfizer and BioNTech have taken actions months ago to be able to adapt the mRNA vaccine within six weeks and ship initial batches within 100 days in the event of an escape variant," the company said in a statement... "We expect more data from the laboratory tests in two weeks at the latest. These data will provide more information about whether B.1.1.529 could be an escape variant that may require an adjustment of our vaccine if the variant spreads globally," a spokesperson told Reuters. Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are also preparing to respond to the Omicron's possible threat. Moderna on Friday said it plans to test a variant-specific booster in the event that its current vaccine is found to be ineffective against the Omicron. And The Hill also reports: Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said Monday he has "a very high level of confidence" that his company's COVID-19 treatment pills are effective against the omicron variant... Bourla said Paxlovid was designed in anticipation of future possible mutations. "So that gives me very, very high level of confidence that the treatment will not be effected, our oral treatment will not be effected by this virus."

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