The new variant of COVID-19, Omicron, and boosters from vaccines has been receiving a lot of press.
In an article published in BMJ on December 14, 2021, “Covid-19: Omicron and the need for boosters”, the authors take us through a detailed summary about how a booster dose of a vaccine against COVID-19 can led to moderate to high vaccine effectiveness of 70 to 75%. They then discuss the information that has published in pre-prints, which is the most current scientific data published and like the one we discussed last time about a study coming out of South Africa about the concentration of neutralizing antibodies decreasing in the presence of Omicron.
They go on to discuss the current booster data out there, not necessarily toward Omicron, that has already been published and how the boosters can significantly increase antibody levels. Finally in a last paragraph they discuss that Pfizer has reported that a third dose of its vaccine provided levels of neutralising antibodies against omicron that were similar to those seen after two doses of the vaccine against the original virus (wildtype). No statistics are provided for this, even though other than news articles, at this time this is one of the few journal articles actually published on this subject due to the newness of the variant that is not just a pre-print.
According to an article from VeryWellHealth on December 20, 2021, they report that two doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine appear to be ineffective at neutralizing the Omicron variant, increasing the risk of breakthrough infections. A booster dose, however, restores antibodies to protective levels, according to a preliminary study shared publicly on Wednesday. The BBC reported on December 18 that a booster against Omicron will provide about 85% protection against severe illness according to a modelling team from Imperial College. No other statistics are provided except that the modelling was done by Robert Cuffee, head of statistics. Again limited info provided in all these articles about statistics or basically nothing about the statistics. This makes it difficult as statisticians for us to understand current research information on this topic.
COVID-19, Omicron, variant, boosters, biostatistics, Usha Govindarajulu
Bugos, Claire (December 20, 2021) “Moderna Vaccine Efficacy Takes a Hit From Omicron”. https://www.verywellhealth.com/moderna-booster-efficacy-omicron-5213567
Mahase E. Covid-19: Omicron and the need for boosters BMJ 2021; 375 :n3079 doi:10.1136/bmj.n3079
Roberts, Michelle (December 18, 2021) “Booster at least 80% effective against severe Omicron” https://www.bbc.com/news/health-59696499