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AstraZeneca says COVID booster effective against Omicron

Empty vials of the AstraZeneca vaccine are seen on the counter at a walk-in COVID-19 vaccination center at a pharmacy in the suburb of Cabramatta in Sydney on August 17, 2021. (Saeed KHAN / AFP)
Empty vials of the AstraZeneca vaccine are seen on the counter at a walk-in COVID-19 vaccination center at a pharmacy in the suburb of Cabramatta in Sydney on August 17, 2021. (Saeed KHAN / AFP)

LONDON — British pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca says that a third, or “booster,” dose of its COVID-19 vaccine Vaxzevria “significantly” lifted antibody levels against the Omicron strain in a laboratory study.

AstraZeneca also reveals in other findings that its preventative moniclonal antibody treatment, Evusheld, “retains neutralization activity” against Omicron.

The threat of the highly transmissible Omicron variant looms large over the festive holidays, forcing many governments to roll out new curbs and urge citizens to get vaccinated.

However, separate UK research suggests that Omicron infections are less likely to result in hospitalization compared to the Delta variant.

“Vaxzevria significantly boosted levels of antibodies against the Omicron SARS-CoV-2 variant (B.1.1.529) following a third dose booster,” AstraZeneca says in a statement.

“The third dose booster vaccination neutralized the Omicron variant to levels that were broadly similar to those observed… after the second dose against the Delta variant.”

Levels of neutralizing antibodies were also higher with the booster jab than with individuals who had previously been infected and recovered naturally.

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