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Booster seems to protect against omicron variant

The third injection of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine provides a “reassuring” level of protection against the omicron variant, the pharmaceutical company announced Monday as the newer strain continues to spread.

The booster injection, equivalent to half the dose of the first two, increased antibody levels against omicron 37-fold based on preliminary data, according to Moderna.

“The dramatic increase in omicron variant COVID-19 cases is concerning to all. However, these data showing that the currently authorized Moderna COVID-19 booster can increase neutralizing antibody levels 37 times higher than previous levels to reinforcement are reassuring,” Stéphane Bancel, CEO of Moderna, said in a statement.

Moderna is still working on a “specific reinforcement of omicron,” Bancel said. Clinical trials could start as early as 2022.

The company’s preliminary study examined 20 booster recipients 29 days after injection.

Moderna is also experimenting with a full-dose booster injection, which so far is “generally safe and well-tolerated” but has shown more frequent adverse reactions than half-dose.

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Similarly, Pfizer said last month that its own booster injection improves protection against omicron “25-fold” compared to the first two doses.

dr Anthony Fauci said Sunday that omicron accounts for more than half of the current COVID-19 cases in the United States ahead of the Christmas and New Year holidays.

“We’re going to see significant stress in some regions of the country on the hospital system, particularly in those areas where there is a low level of vaccination,” he said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Mayor de Blasio has promised that more testing sites will open in New York City and that at-home testing will become available through local nonprofits as COVID cases rise.

President Biden will address the nation on Tuesday about the growing risk of the omicron variant and “announce new steps the administration is taking to help communities in need of assistance, while issuing a strong warning of what winter will look like for Americans who choose to remain unvaccinated,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Saturday.

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