Early research indicates COVID vaccines effective against omicron, Vanderhoff says

Early research into the omicron COVID-19 variant indicates vaccines still protect against severe illness from the virus, Ohio Department of Heath Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff said.

“The results of the early research are encouraging, reinforcing the benefits of the primary vaccination series and when it is time, boosters,” he said.

Studies in Sweden and South Africa showed a “relatively modest reduction” in antibody response to the variant, Vanderhoff added. So while a vaccinated person may have an increased risk of a mild case of COVID, they should have protection against severe illness that could result in hospitalization or death.

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Research by the developers of the Pfizer vaccine indicate three doses of the vaccine offers significant protection against omicron.

Blood samples obtained from people a month after they received a COVID booster shot showed neutralizing antibodies against the omicron variant were comparable to the levels seen in previous versions of the virus after two doses of the vaccine, Vanderhoff said. Additional tests also indicate omicron mutations don’t significantly impact T cells.

“This apparent preservation of cellular immunity suggests vaccinated individuals may still be protected against severe forms of the disease after only two doses of the mRNA vaccines,” he said. “While we still have a lot to learn about omicron, this variant’s arrival continues to underscore the importance of our best prevention tool, and that is vaccination”

While the omicron variant has not been identified in Ohio yet, it’s only a matter of time, Vanderhoff said. In the mean time, the state will continue to monitor and learn from new data and research as it is available.

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