Omicron-Specific Boosters No Better Than Original Vax, Study Finds

  • The newest omicron COVID-19 booster shots from Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech do not increase neutralizing antibodies, proteins produced in the body that help prevent infection, against omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 compared to four of the original COVID-19 shots, according to a small-scale independent study.
  • Researchers at Columbia University and the University of Michigan found that the omicron booster did not induce more antibodies among 21 people who had received three shots with the original formula and a fourth shot of Moderna’s or Pfizer-BioNTech’s omicron booster compared to 19 people who had received four shots targeting the original strain.
  • The study suggests that the omicron booster may not protect people from getting infected with the highly transmissible subvariant BA.5, which accounts for most COVID-19 cases in the U.S. currently, any more than the previous shots, despite the updated boosters being formulated to provide better protection against infection and severe disease against the current strains.