Booster shots may offer higher protection vs Omicron variant – infectious disease expert
MANILA, Philippines — COVID-19 booster shots may offer higher protection against the Omicron variant of COVID-19, an infectious disease expert said Thursday.
Dr. Rontgene Solante, chief of the Adult Infectious Diseases and Tropical Medicine unit of San Lazaro Hospital and member of the Department of Science and Technology’s Vaccine Expert Panel, said that a higher level of antibodies would offer increased protection against the variant of concern.
“Why [do] we need [a] booster? Why [do] we need to maintain that higher antibody level? Nakikita na kasi natin ngayon (Because we now see that), for COVID virus, we need a higher antibody level which is the means of blocking the entry of the virus,” he told ABS-CBN’s Teleradyo.
“‘Yung blocking capacity ng vaccine in order for us to maintain that, we need a higher antibody level, and by giving the booster, especially the vulnerable population, mas mataas-taas ang magiging protection natin even with this variant of concern,” he added.
(To maintain the blocking capacity of vaccines, we need a higher antibody level, and by giving the booster doses especially to the vulnerable population, we will have higher protection even with this variant of concern.)
According to Solante, COVID-19 vaccines may still work against the Omicron variant.
“Kapag sinasabi natin na may mga mutations, nangangamba rin tayo na baka eventually ang mga bakuna ay hihina eventually ang panglaban sa mga mutated COVID virus. I believe na at this point in time, it’s too early to tell kung talaga bang apektado ang mga bakuna,” he said.
(When we say there are mutations, we are worried that vaccines may eventually become weaker against the mutated forms of the virus. I believe that it is too early to tell if vaccines are really affected.)
“But based on that mutation, I think vaccines will still work and more importantly will protect us against the more severe infection. That’s why ang lagi nating paalala, bakuna, bakuna, bakuna, (we’re always reminding people to get vaccinated), even with these mutations or variants of concern,” Solante added.
Experts are still studying the implications of the Omicron variant that South African scientists first discovered. In the variant, the spike protein has 32 mutations, which indicates that it can increase virus transmission and affect vaccinations.
According to Solante, the Omicron variant may behave the same or even more than the highly transmissible Delta variant that drove new COVID-19 cases in the Philippines to over 20,000 per day in September.
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