Covid booster: Moderna effective against Omicron – but what about Pfizer?

Covid booster: Moderna effective against Omicron – but what about Pfizer?

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Covid booster vaccines are being rolled out across the nation in a bid to protect Brits against the latest strain of the coronavirus. Both Pfizer and Moderna have made the cut for the booster injection, which offers flexible immunity when different types of vaccines are used for the third dose. Latest research shows promising results from the Moderna vaccine against Omicron – but how does Pfizer compare?

The Government’s latest coronavirus booster campaign has seen a rapid uptake across the UK, with more than 28 million Brits having already received their third dose as of Sunday, December 19.

Initially targeted at people over the age of 40 and those in vulnerable groups, the booster was soon made available to the entire adult population in the UK.

This was part of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s “national mission” to accelerate the booster programme.

Fears over the latest ‘tidal wave’ of the Omicron variant has spurred millions of Brits to get boosted with the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines despite fears over the effectiveness of these existing remedies to COVID-19.

New studies have revealed the Moderna booster offers significant protection against Omicron – and Pfizer isn’t too far behind.

How effective is the Pfizer booster vaccine?

Recent analysis by the UK Government’s Health Security Agency has found those who receive a booster jab remain up to 70 percent protected against COVID-19.

Despite passing initial tests for its suitability as a booster shot, the Pfizer vaccine has since been challenged for its effectiveness against the new Omicron variant.

A small study has found Pfizer may be up to 40 times less effective against the Omicron coronavirus variant than the first strain of Covid.

Carried out by Professor Alex Sigal, a professor at the Africa Health Research Institute, concerns over a “very large drop” in immunity against the new variant among those given Pfizer’s vaccine were also raised.

However, this study sample only involved 12 vaccinated people, so more data is needed to prove this on a real-world scale.

When used as part of a ‘mix and match’ approach to the three-course vaccination programme, Pfizer has proven to be highly effective.

One study led by Swedish Epidemiologist Mie Agermose Gram at the State Serum Institute in Copenhagen found one dose of AstraZeneca followed by one dose of Pfizer–BioNTech was 88 percent effective at preventing COVID-19 infection.

An earlier study published by The Lancet also found those who received two doses of AstraZeneca and then received a booster Pfizer jab had a 25-fold increase in antibodies.

The study found when the Pfizer booster was given following two Pfizer shots, antibody levels rose more than eightfold.

Despite three doses of the Pfizer vaccination alone proving partially effective at offering protection from Omicron, Albert Bourla, CEO of Pfizer has suggested that a fourth dose may be necessary.

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How effective is the Moderna booster vaccine?

Vaccine creators have revealed their efforts will continue to develop an updated Omicron-based vaccine by Spring, 2022.

For now, the pharmaceutical company says the Moderna booster is proving effective at increasing the level of antibodies against the newest strain of COVID-19.

Dr Paul Burton, Moderna’s chief medical officer, told The Guardian: “What we have available right now is [mRNA] 1273.
“It’s highly effective and 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.”

A recent study by Moderna revealed a two-dose course of its vaccine generated low neutralising antibodies against Omicron but a third dose proved effective at increasing these levels.

Moderna told the publication a 50µg booster dose increased neutralising antibodies against the variant 37-fold.

Moderna has proven particularly promising at increasing the protection of vaccinated people when used as a third dose in conjunction with other types of coronavirus vaccines.

Earlier this month Reuters reported: “A major British study into mixing COVID-19 vaccines has found that people had a better immune response when they received a first dose of AstraZeneca or Pfizer-BioNTech shots followed by Moderna nine weeks later.”

More data is yet to come as the booster roll-out continues – but so far signs are promising.

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