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Oxford study says boosters ‘should add considerable protection against Omicron’

A COVID-19 vaccine is administered inside the newly-set up Wembley Stadium vaccination center in London on December 19, 2021, as the booster rollout accelerates in England. (Tolga Akmen/AFP)
A COVID-19 vaccine is administered inside the newly-set up Wembley Stadium vaccination center in London on December 19, 2021, as the booster rollout accelerates in England. (Tolga Akmen/AFP)

LONDON — A third dose of both the AstraZeneca and Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines significantly increases the immune response to the Omicron variant, according to a new study by University of Oxford researchers.

The laboratory study, which hasn’t been peer reviewed yet, compares antibody levels in blood samples from people who received two doses of vaccine with samples from those who had received a third dose.

While two doses provide much less protection against Omicron than earlier variants, levels of neutralizing antibodies rise sharply after a third dose, the study finds.

“In summary, neutralization titres against Omicron are boosted following a third vaccine dose, meaning that the campaign to deploy booster vaccines should add considerable protection against Omicron infection,” the researchers write.

The study also found that unvaccinated people who had recovered from COVID-19 probably have “little protection from reinfection with Omicron,” though they may have some protection against serious illness.

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