A new study suggests that people over age 50 who receive a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot have 95-percent protection against death from the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, Britain’s public health agency said Thursday.
The United Kingdom Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said that around six months after receiving the second dose of any of the COVID-19 vaccines, protection against death with Omicron was around 60% in those aged 50 and over. But this increased to around 95% two weeks after receiving a booster shot.
It added that effectiveness against hospitalization due to COVID complications was around 90% for the Pfizer-BioNTech shot, dropping to 75% 10-14 weeks after the booster, and it was 90-95% up to 9 weeks after the Moderna booster.
“The evidence is clear, the vaccine helps to protect us all against the effects of COVID-19 and the booster is offering high levels of protection from hospitalization and death in the most vulnerable members of our society,” said Dr. Mary Ramsay, head of immunization at UKHSA.
The analysis comes following assessments by health experts that the fast-spreading Omicron variant could mark the end of the pandemic as it has been experienced over the past two years.
Last week, the head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said that “the explosion in cases has not been matched by a surge in deaths.”
Most coronavirus restrictions, including mandatory face masks, were lifted in England on Thursday after Britain’s government said its vaccine booster rollout successfully reduced serious illness and COVID-19 hospitalizations.
Hospital admissions and the number of people in intensive care units have stabilized or fallen in Britain, and daily cases have dropped from a peak of over 200,000 around the beginning of January to under 100,000.
UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the vaccine rollout, testing, and development of antiviral treatments have combined to make “some of the strongest defenses in Europe,” allowing a “cautious return” to normality.
Agencies contributed to this report.