Moderna Reports Its Booster Is Effective Against Omicron
Moderna announced on December 20th that the booster dosage currently approved by the FDA raises the amount of antibodies capable to neutralize Omicron variant.
Initial tests were performed by the company to see if blood sera taken from individuals who received the booster dose of Omicron could be neutralized in the laboratory. Researchers collected sera from 20 people who had received the currently authorized booster—50 µg, which is half the dose authorized in the original two-dose regimen—and from 20 people who had received a full-dose booster of 100 µg. Half the dose of Omicron neutralizing antibody booster increased Omicron levels by 37 fold in a matter of months, while full-dose raised Omicron antibodies by 83 times.
The results are encouraging but don’t represent real-world data yet on how well the booster, at either dose, can actually control spread of Omicron or the severity of COVID-19 among people who are boosted and get infected. The company is working with others to collect data on breakthrough infections.
That means it’s still not clear how the 37-fold increase in antibodies translates into immune protection for people who get the booster. It’s still unknown, for example, whether that increase is enough to restore protection from serious disease back to the same high levels that the original vaccine did against earlier versions of the virus. However, public health professionals believe that higher levels of virus fighting antibodies can restore some protection. This is especially important against Omicron which moves quickly. Moderna will continue to investigate breakthrough infections among those who have been boosted. Scientists are also working on a new vaccine that targets Omicron.
For now, the new lab results suggest that the current vaccine at the currently authorized dose does appear to bolster people’s ability to mount a response against Omicron. Moderna is yet to say if it plans to submit a request to FDA to allow the full dosage booster. These are encouraging results and an expected rise in Omicron-related cases.