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Will Booster Shots Help if Omicron Can Evade Immunity?

The omicron variant is strange. On one hand, it continues to infect more and more people every day, even the vaccinated ones. On the other, the chances of it turning into a severe disease are fewer as compared to the Delta variant. But if Omicron can evade immunity and you can still fall sick, should you even bother getting a booster dose? Let’s find out.

Calculating how vaccines can protect me if Omicron doesn’t let them

What does Omicron evading immunity even mean?

Evading immunity means that a virus can infect you even if you’re vaccinated or have antibodies. 

When people contract COVID or get vaccinated, they develop antibodies. Antibodies help them fight future infections. But recent studies by Columbia and Imperial College suggest that Omicron can still cause infection. The Omicron variant can break through the immune response of vaccinated people and those with past infections. 

Does that mean vaccines are ineffective?

Absolutely not! There are many reasons why breakthrough infections can happen. 

  • Firstly, everybody reacts to vaccines differently. So if Vaccine A claims an efficacy of 70%, there are chances you could get 50% or 90% protection from it., depending on your body. The value for efficacy comes from how well a vaccine performs in clinical trials on average. 
  • Secondly, recent studies have shown that the immunity provided by the vaccines wanes over time. While your double-dose may still protect you from Delta, the same may not be the case for Omicron. 

The effectiveness of a vaccine is different from efficacy. Efficacy is measured keeping in mind how a vaccine prevents the chance of infection in a clinical trial. Effectiveness speaks to how well a vaccine saves you from severe disease in the real world. COVID vaccines are still effective.

A case for the booster dose

The presence of breakthrough infections doesn’t mean we can dismiss the vaccines. Studies from the UK have shown that booster dose is effective in neutralising Omicron and Delta variants. Pfizer claims their third dose boosts antibody production against mild infection to 75%, and 88% for severe infection. Covishield is also believed to boost protection against mild disease by 70-75%

These figures don’t mean you won’t get infected ever again, but that your body will be able to make a quick recovery if you do. The purpose of the booster dose is for you to be able to prevent the worst-case scenario – hospitalisation, severe disease or death. 

Another reason why health experts are encouraging the booster dose is for the eventual goal of achieving herd immunity. When more and more people get vaccinated, the chance of transmission significantly reduces and the virus can be contained. So yes, the omicron variant can evade immunity but the booster dose will protect you way better than the double dose does currently.

What should you do after getting the booster?

The one confirmed way of beating this virus is to take the same basic precautions we have been taking since 2020. Stay home, wear an N95 mask whenever you need to step outside and sanitize your hands regularly. The vaccine will do its bit to protect you, but you should too. So don’t let your mask down, the virus is no one’s friend. 

The virus is definitely not your friend but Even is. As members, you have free and unlimited access to consultations (online and offline), RT-PCR tests, lab tests, and a significant hospital cover. If you’re not a member and want healthcare that is 100% free and seamless, please visit even.in. We’d love to have you as a member.