Dr. Anthony Fauci speaks about the variant of Omicron coronavirus during a press conference at the White House in Washington, USA, on December 1, 2021.
Kevin Lamarque | Reuters
White House senior medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said Friday that laboratory studies strongly suggest that booster syringes offer you cross protection against a “wide range” of Covid-19 variants, but noted that this has not yet been proven.
Booster shots “significantly” increase the antibody titers against variants of the virus, Fauci said at a press conference in the White House on Friday. Third shots also increase memory B cells and T cells, a line of defense made by the immune system to fight off a virus.
Memory B cells produce antibodies to fight bacteria and viruses, while T cells attack and destroy other cells infected with a virus.
“There is every reason to believe that if you are vaccinated and boosted, you will have at least some cross-protection,” said Fauci. “Very likely against serious illnesses, even against the Omicron variant.”
Fauci’s remarks come as the world grapples with the new, heavily mutated omicron variant of Covid-19.
The variant has about 50 mutations, more than 30 of which are due to the spike protein, the mechanism by which the virus attaches to human cells. According to the World Health Organization, some of the mutations are associated with higher transmission and decreased antibody protection.
The U.S. joins a list of at least 38 countries with confirmed cases of the World Health Organization’s Omicron variant on Friday. At least six US states now have more than a dozen cases of the variant after Nebraska officials confirmed six new infections on Friday.
Amid growing concerns about Omicron, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention increased their recommendation on Covid-19 booster vaccinations on Monday, telling all adults that they “should” an extra dose. All individuals over the age of 18 should receive an additional shot six months after their first Pfizer or Moderna series or two months after their first Johnson & Johnson shot under the CDC’s new guidelines.
The Biden government has also sponsored the uptake of Covid-19 vaccine booster shots, promising to make them available to up to 100 million eligible Americans.
To support the rollout, he promised: “More coverage, more appointments, more hours, more times and places where you can come by.”
To date, over 41 million Americans have already received a booster vaccination, including half of the eligible seniors, the White House said Thursday.
Health officials in the US and around the world still fear that the Omicron variant could reduce the effectiveness of vaccines to some extent.
A study published in Science in November showed that the Pfizer vaccine’s effectiveness in preventing infection decreased from 86% to 43% from February through October. The study also found that Moderna’s vaccine dropped from 89% to 58% and J & J’s from 86% to 13% against infections.
But Pfizer’s booster dose provided 95 percent protection against symptomatic infections in a clinical study of 10,000 people.