Fauci says 'no need for a variant-specific booster' as omicron wave looms

Top medical adviser insists that existing vaccines can help protect against new variants

Tom Fenton
Wednesday 15 December 2021 22:38 GMT
Pfizer's COVID Pill Protects Against Omicron Variant, New Study Finds
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Dr Anthony Fauci, the chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden, has encouraged Americans to have faith in already existing vaccines to combat the new omicron variant, dismissing the need for variant-specific jabs.

As The Hill reports, Dr Fauci defended the effectiveness of booster jabs on Wednesday, including those from Pfizer and Moderna. “Our booster vaccine regimens work against omicron. At this point, there is no need for a variant-specific booster.”

His press briefing comments come after Pfizer’s recent announcement that it had already started work on a modified vaccine that should be even more effective in combatting the new variant.

Virus Outbreak Biden (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Dr Fauci said omicron “undoubtedly compromises the effects” of two doses of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines in preventing infection – hence the emphasis that is now being placed upon a third booster jab.

A South African study suggests that the effectiveness of the Pfizer vaccine against omicron, with only two doses, fell to just 33 per cent.

By contrast, a separate study emerging from the UK, where omicron cases have risen sharply, seems to show that a third dose does in fact increasing protection substantially – to between 70 and 75 per cent.

Meanwhile, in Washington DC, the White House has once again emphasised the importance of getting a booster, ahead of what is expected to be a busy Christmas period where infection rates could rise exponentially.

“The message remains clear: if you are unvaccinated, get vaccinated and particularly in the arena of omicron, if you are fully vaccinated, get your booster shot,” Dr Fauci added.

The White House is banking on existing vaccines to help combat Omicron (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Newly-released CDC data indicates that around one in four fully vaccinated Americans have received their booster shot so far, with the overwhelming majority of recipients being the elderly.

For the Biden administration, the race is seemingly on to fast-track its booster programme, with warnings in place over shop and business closures if the omicron infection rate cannot be curtailed.

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