Why is the anticovid booster dose still interesting despite the omicron variant?

The world is waiting to know if the omicron variant is especially dangerous or resistant to covid-19 vaccines. But this does not call into question the interest of the booster dose, according to the experts.

Will vaccines be as effective with the omicron variant?

It is the big question that everyone asks, but it is still too early to say.

In an interview in the Financial Times, Moderna’s chairman, Stéphane Bancel, was rather pessimistic, estimating that there could be a “significant decrease” in its effectiveness.

According to him, the researchers are concerned that 32 of the 50 mutations found in the omicron variant are in the spike protein, the key that allows the virus to enter the body.

For his part, the founder of BioNTech, which has developed a vaccine against covid-19 together with the US giant Pfizer, pointed out that the new variant could cause more infections among inoculated people but that they would probably continue to be protected from serious forms of the illness. “Our message is: do not be afraid, the plan remains the same. Accelerate the administration of the third dose,” said Ugur Sahin.

For more information, it will be necessary to wait for the results of the laboratory tests, which will come out in two or three weeks.

Although current immunizers are less effective against this new variant, they will still create some protection.

It will not be “an on / off effect,” Yazdan Yazdanpanah, head of the infectious diseases service at Bichat hospital in Paris, said this week.

When in doubt, does the booster dose have to be administered?

Yes, several experts have insisted this week, at a time when Europe is facing a new wave of infections due to the delta variant.

It would be “a serious mistake to wait,” said Alain Fischer, head of the vaccination strategy in France, on Friday.

Faced with this wave, several countries are accelerating their vaccination campaigns. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson set a deadline at the end of January to administer the booster dose to all adults, increasing the period from six to three months from the second dose.

In the United States, Pfizer submitted an authorization request for a booster dose to adolescents aged 16 to 17 years.

“We do not have to make the wrong enemy, for now it is the delta variant,” insisted Arnaud Fontanet, a member of the French scientific council.

At the moment, nothing indicates that omicron will outperform the delta variant. If this happens, it will take several weeks, or months.

However, some healthcare professionals have doubts as to whether the booster dose is necessary for the entire population.

“The priority is to vaccinate the elderly and those at risk, and then give them the booster. But an additional dose for the young … does not seem a priority for now,” said Yvon Le Flohic, a general practitioner who follows closely the evolution of the epidemic from the beginning.

When will the new vaccines arrive?

Laboratories Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson (J&J) and Moderna say they have started work on a new version of their vaccine against Ovid, focusing on omicron, in case the current serums were not effective enough.

Pfizer has already created two new versions of its vaccine against the delta and beta variants, which were ultimately not used.

“The laboratories hid behind the fact that their vaccines continued to protect against severe forms of covid, but this contributed to letting the virus circulate,” lamented Bruno Canard, director of research at the CNRS, a coronavirus specialist.

Although Pfizer promises a new immunizer in less than 100 days, its implementation will be much slower and will not take place “before spring”, according to this scientist. “Until then, current vaccines protect against severe forms of the delta variant.”

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