New study finds booster protection against Omicron drops at 10 weeks

Booster shot effectiveness against the Omicron coronavirus variant wanes faster than it does against Delta, according to new data collected in the United Kingdom. The data shows the booster vaccines’ protection against Omicron drops significantly after about 10 weeks.

In a report published Thursday, the UK Health Security Agency released data on 147,597 Delta and 68,489 Omicron cases, using the country’s vaccination information to assess the longevity of the AstraZeneca, Pfizer, and Moderna vaccines and boosters. Every vaccine was less effective against Omicron than Delta over time, but to varying degrees, per the agency’s analysis.

For those who received two shots of AstraZeneca, a booster from a vaccine using mRNA technology—which Moderna and Pfizer use—protected against symptomatic disease with 60 percent effectiveness two to four weeks after the shot. But at 10 weeks, the effectiveness of a Moderna booster dropped to 45 percent, and Pfizer booster effectiveness dropped to just 35 percent. AstraZeneca’s vaccines are not approved for use in the US, but the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine and booster shot uses similar technology.

Recipients of three Pfizer doses started with 70 percent effectiveness against Omicron one week after the booster. That protection dropped to 45 percent after 10 weeks. Those who were initially double-dosed with Pfizer, but then received a Moderna booster, stayed at around 75 percent effectiveness at up to nine weeks post-booster administration. The UK Health Security agency could not estimate booster effectiveness in those who received initial Moderna doses because the number of participants was too low.

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