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Moderna vs Omicron: Study Says Current Formulation Enough

Moderna vs Omicron: Study Says Current Formulation Enough

The current formulation of the Moderna vaccine provides adequate protection against the Omicron variant. A study published in February 2022 shows how effective Moderna is against the original Wuhan strain and the SARS-CoV2 Omicron variant. This means the regular Moderna vaccine as a booster and the Omicron-specific Moderna shot offer nearly the same level of antibody levels against Omicron. The Moderna vs Omicron battle seems to be swinging Moderna’s way.

Moderna vs Omicron

In a study, researchers gave the mRNA-1273 vaccine as the primary dose to monkeys. They were boosted with either mRNA-1273 or the mRNA-Omicron vaccine. Regular booster shots of both offered nearly the same number of antibody levels against the Omicron variant.

The study found that, on the sixth week after being fully vaccinated, those antibody levels began declining. Those levels dip further after 41 weeks. Data suggests, however, that a Moderna booster increases antibody levels 10-fold.

Immunologist Dr. Mario Jiz explained that this means people don’t need an Omicron-specific vaccine just to kill the Omicron variant.

“It’s okay to use the original Moderna vaccine because it’s already enough to provide you with high antibody titers,” Jiz said in a CNN interview. “And in fact, it is slightly higher than those with the Omicron specific vaccine, although the difference does not seem to be significant.”

How the Omicron Variant Began

Researchers first detected the Omicron variant in specimens collected on November 11, 2021, in Botswana and November 14, 2021, in South Africa. And on November 24, 2021, researchers submitted reports on COVID-19 B.1.1.529 to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The WHO named B.1.1.529 Omicron on November 26, 2021, and classified it as a Variant of Concern (VOC). The first US case of Omicron was identified by December 1, 2021.

The Omicron variant spreads more easily than the original COVID-19 and the Delta variant. Even if they’re vaccinated or asymptomatic, anyone infected with Omicron can spread it. There are four Omicron lineages: B.1.1.529, Ba.1, BA.2, and BA.3. BA.2 quickly became the dominant line and is the sub-variant that spread throughout the Philippines from late 2021.

The Speed of the BA.2 Sub-Variant

Laboratory studies suggest the BA.2 sub-variant is more transmissible than BA.1. Other preliminary studies say BA.2 can readily overcome immunity from vaccination and previous infection with early variants. It is not, however, better than BA.1 at doing that.

Scientists now think that the BA.2 sub-variant is unlikely to spark a second major wave of infections, hospitalizations, and deaths that Omicron left in its wake.

An immunologist and virologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center posted the following conclusion on February 7. “It might prolong the Omicron surge. But our data would suggest that it would not lead to a brand-new additional surge,” says Dan Barouch.

Moderna vs Omicron: Effectivity of Moderna Vaccine

“It’s okay to use the original Moderna vaccine because it’s already enough to provide you with high antibody titers,” Dr. Jiz said. “And in fact, it is slightly higher than those with the Omicron specific vaccine, although the difference does not seem to be significant.”

At present though, the subjects of these Moderna tests have only been monkeys. Jiz clarified that human trials are still necessary. As of February 21, 2022, the United Kingdom had reported the highest number of Omicron variant cases. The country had 516,584 total cases while the US had 462,117.

“With this particular omicron variant, the two doses of vaccine are not sufficient to control Omicron,” he added. “But if you provide a booster dose, it is already sufficient to provide protection against Omicron.”

Key Takeaways

  • A study published in February 2022 says current Moderna booster shots are effective against the Omicron variant of COVID-19.
  • Both the regular booster shots with Moderna and the Omicron-specific vaccine offer nearly the same amount of antibody levels against Omicron.
  • The battle of Moderna vs Omicron is swinging Moderna’s way.

For more on coronavirus, click here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Vaccine experts: Current Moderna formulation enough to fight Omicron variant, https://www.cnnphilippines.com/news/2022/2/23/Moderna-booster-Omicron-variant-VEP.html, Accessed February 24, 2022

Omicron Variant: What You Need to Know, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/variants/omicron-variant.html#:~:text=Emergence%20of%20Omicron&text=November%2024%2C%202021%3A%20A%20new,14%2C%202021%20in%20South%20Africa., Accessed February 24, 2022

Enhancing response to Omicron SARS-CoV-2 variant, https://www.who.int/publications/m/item/enhancing-readiness-for-omicron-(b.1.1.529)-technical-brief-and-priority-actions-for-member-states, Accessed February 24, 2022

Why does the Omicron sub-variant spread faster than the original? https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-022-00471-2, Accessed February 24, 2022

Number of SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant cases worldwide as of February 21, 2022, by country or territory, https://www.statista.com/statistics/1279100/number-omicron-variant-worldwide-by-country/,  Accessed February 24, 2022

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Written by Jason Inocencio Updated 3 weeks ago
Medically reviewed by Mae Charisse Antalan, MD