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Vaxzevria significantly boosts antibody levels against Omicron

By Angela Barnes


Covid-19 tests being carried out in a laboratory
University of Oxford study supports use of Vaxzevria as third-dose booster against Omicron – Photo: Shutterstock

AstraZeneca (AZN) has said its Vaxzevria vaccine significantly boosts levels of antibodies against the Omicron variant following a third dose of it, according to data from a new laboratory study.

In a press release published on Thursday, it said the levels seen after the third booster were higher than the neutralising antibodies found in individuals who had been previously infected with and recovered naturally from Covid-19.

The British-Swedish pharmaceutical company said samples obtained from individuals one month after receiving the third dose booster vaccination neutralised the Omicron variant to levels that were broadly similar to those observed one month after the second dose against the Delta variant.

“Two doses of Vaxzevria have been associated with protection against the Delta variant in real world studies,” AstraZeneca said.

Omicron protection study

For the study, blood samples were taken from 41 individuals infected with Covid-19 who had received three doses of Vaxzevria.

It was performed independently by investigators at the University of Oxford.

Professor Sir John Bell, Regius Professor of Medicine at the University of Oxford and one of the study investigators, commented on the study results.

“It is very encouraging to see that current vaccines have the potential to protect against Omicron following a third dose booster. These results support the use of third dose boosters as part of national vaccine strategies, especially to limit the spread of variants of concern, including Omicron,” Bell said.

Global vaccination drive

Sir Mene Pangalos, executive vice president of BioPharmaceuticals R&D at AstraZeneca, also commented on the findings.

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“Vaxzevria plays an important role in vaccination programmes around the world and these data give us confidence that the vaccine should be given as a third dose booster. It is also important to look beyond antibodies to better understand how vaccines offer protection against Omicron. As we better understand Omicron, we believe we will find that T-cell response provides durable protection against severe disease and hospitalisations,” Pangalos said.

AstraZeneca said data from another lab study supports Vaxzevria’s effect against Omicron, with individuals injected with two doses of of the vaccine retaining neutralising activity against Omicron, although a decrease was seen compared to the original strain.

AstraZeneca also said it is collecting real-world evidence evaluating the effectiveness against the Omicron variant with academic groups in the southern African region.

Shares in AstraZeneca were down 0.33% on Thursday morning in London.

Covid-19 cases in the UK

AstraZeneca reports its findings on the day that the UK reported a record 106,122 daily Covid cases.

There are currently more than 8,000 people in hospital, with 849 on ventilators, according to the most recent figures from Public Health England.

It comes as the UK reported 13,581 more Omicron cases in the latest 24 hours, taking the total to 74,089.

Read more: Asia-Pacific markets track Wall Street gains to edge higher

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