Moderna Booster Shot Found to Increase Antibody Levels Against Omicron Variant of COVID

The company is also creating an omicron-specific booster shot

Moderna has announced that its booster shot increases antibody levels against the new omicron variant of COVID-19.

In a Monday press release, the pharmaceutical giant cited preliminary data from the shot, noting that the currently approved 50-microgram booster increased antibody levels against the variant about 37-fold, compared to levels seen in fully vaccinated people who do not receive a booster.

A full dose, 100-microgram booster was found to be even more effective, increasing antibody levels approximately 83-fold.

"The dramatic increase in COVID-19 cases from the Omicron variant is concerning to all. However, these data showing that the currently authorized Moderna COVID-19 booster can boost neutralizing antibody levels 37-fold higher than pre-boost levels are reassuring," CEO Stéphane Bancel said in the release.

A vial of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine and syringes sit prepared at a pop up vaccine clinic at the Jewish Community Center on April 16, 2021 in the Staten Island borough of New York City.
Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty

He went on to note that the company will continue working on an omicron-specific booster "in case it becomes necessary in the future."

"We will also continue to generate and share data across our booster strategies with public health authorities to help them make evidence-based decisions on the best vaccination strategies against SARS-CoV-2," the statement said.

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The new omicron variant of COVID-19 is the most contagious yet, has more mutations than any before it, and seems to evade the previously-effective two-dose vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna. As it spreads, there has been a spike in cases around the country but particularly in New York State, which reported that a record 21,027 people tested positive for the virus on Thursday.

However, multiple studies and reports have found that the booster shots are effective in preventing COVID-19 infections even with omicron.

Covid Vaccine
COVID-19 vaccine. APU GOMES/AFP via Getty

One study from the U.K. found that while omicron reduces the two-dose vaccine series from Pfizer to just 34% effectiveness in preventing infection, getting a booster dose brings that protection back up to 75%.

Though the vaccines are less effective in preventing infection with omicron, they are still extremely protective against severe illness that could lead to hospitalization or death. Cases of omicron in vaccinated people have been mild or asymptomatic, with patients recovering within three days, according to a large study from South Africa.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, said last week that a booster shot will protect against infection from omicron, and that Pfizer and Moderna do not need to formulate an omicron-specific booster shot.

"Our booster vaccine regimens work against omicron," Fauci said, according to The New York Times. "At this point, there is no need for a very specific booster. And so 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."

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