According to an Israeli study, people who got vaccinated with two shots of the Pfizer vaccine about six months ago don’t have any neutralizing ability against the newly-discovered Omicron variant of the coronavirus. But, people who have received a booster shot are in much better shape. Sheba Medical Center’s Professor Gili Regev Yochay stated that the results of her research were ‘worrisome’ because of its implications for people who have only received two doses and half a year has already elapsed since their vaccination. This is applicable to a large number of individuals vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine all over the globe.
But, she added that it also gave some much-needed ‘optimism’ over the power of the booster shot to fight the Omicron variant, even though it is not as effective against the new variant as it is against the Delta. On Saturday night, she told a media briefing that the Omicron variant was resistant to the vaccine when it went up against two doses, but not so much with a third dose. She also acknowledged that they had only conducted a small study, as only 40 people were involved, but she added that she believes the results are significant and reliable.
Regev Yochay talked about the research that will go for a peer review and then be published in the New England Journal of Medicine. She said that after finishing the lab work, she had compared the serum’s ability from the healthcare workers vaccinated at the Sheba Medical Center and had done a comparison of the two groups. She said that one of the healthcare workers had received the second shot six months ago and hadn’t gotten the booster, even though they were eligible. The other healthcare workers were those who had gotten the booster shot about a month ago.
She said that they had compared their ability of neutralizing the Omicron variant and talked about the response of the antibodies against the new strain. The serum obtained from the healthcare workers was put together in lab conditions with the Omicron strain. It should be noted that Sheba has not given confirmation about where it got the sample for the Omicron variant. However, Dr. Elad Maor, who is the third person in Israel to be diagnosed with the variant does work at the hospital. Regev Yochay said that the news was both good and bad. She added that they had no idea if the effectiveness of the booster against Omicron would decline with time or not.
She went on to say that even though the neutralizing ability of the booster shot was lower against the Omicron variant than the Delta, it was still good news because a lot of infections could be prevented. She also added that it would also help in preventing people from becoming seriously ill, even if they are infected. She said that even if those with the booster shot do get infected, they are not likely to get severe disease, which was a good thing.