Monday, July 22, 2024

Moderna Is Working On An Omicron-Specific Booster — Is It Necessary?

Moderna just announced the beginning of the human trials of the Omicron booster. Here’s why that’s potentially great news.

On Wednesday, Moderna announced the start of their new COVID-19 booster trial on humans. This time, the company is working on a booster that’s specifically meant to target the Omicron variant.

While data and health experts assure that the original vaccine and booster provide protection from the new COVID-19 variant, Moderna wants to target Omicron with a fresh booster, one that’s capable of circumventing the challenges that the new variant poses. Research shows that Omicron is more resistant to the vaccine’s antibodies, something that increases as time passes and the effectiveness of boosters and vaccines fade.

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Moderna’s omicron vaccine trial is made up of two groups of about 300 people each. One group will be comprised of people who received two doses of the vaccine at least six months ago, and another with those who received two doses plus a booster within the past three months.

Despite the great spread of Omicron, more and more data is shedding light on the fact that it’s much milder than previous variants of the virus, at least on patients who are immunized.

A recent study conducted by the CDC shows that Omicron is less likely to result in deaths and hospitalizations, with even those who were hospitalized having higher odds of recuperating. The study found that those infected with Omicron are 75% less likely to require intensive care and that hospitalized patients require an average of 1.5 days of treatment when compared to patients in the past, who required an average of five days of attention. None of the subjects with Omicron had to go on a ventilator, a striking fact considering the number of people whose data was analyzed.

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While this is good news, it’s still important to have a vaccine that can target the new variant, protecting those who are more likely to get ill and narrowing the path of the virus, which would give breathing room to hospitals and healthcare workers.

Omicron’s great spread, while initially terrifying, is now seen by some as the start of the end of the pandemic. The more the virus spreads, the more it immunizes people, eliminating further avenues for the virus to mutate and infect, as it’s been doing over the past two years.

This possibility is encouraging, with the best possible outcome being that the virus reaches its endemic stage and becomes just another virus to keep an eye on, like the flu. Still, it’s impossible to know whether or not this will happen, or if other variants, perhaps ones who are more deadly, will appear.


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