Despite the fact that the pandemic is over, more than 50,000 Austrians are currently on sick leave due to coronavirus. The current Omicron variants are highly contagious, but demand for the booster vaccine has been hesitant. Until now, there has also been a lack of proof of its effectiveness against currently circulating variants. This has now been provided by the Hannover Medical School (MHH) with a new study.
In cooperation with the MHH Institute of Immunology and the German Primate Center Göttingen, researchers have published the world’s first paper on the new XBB.1.5-based vaccine from Biontech. As part of the “COVID-19 Contact (CoCo)” study at the MHH, 53 MHH employees who received the vaccine were examined. Their immune response was then measured. The result:
After vaccination with the new booster, the antibodies against Omicron variants had increased significantly. The work has been published in the renowned journal “The Lancet Infection Diseases”.
Efficacy is also confirmed for sub-variants such as Pirola
“We found a large amount of neutralising antibodies not only against Omicron XBB.1.5 but also against other sub-variants,” says senior physician Professor Alexandra Dopfer-Jablonka, who is leading the immune study with clinical colleague Professor Dr Georg Behrens. This means that the vaccine not only activates the immune system against the currently dominant corona variant XBB.1.5 but also activates the body’s own defences against the currently spreading variants “Pirola” (BA2.86) and “Eris” (EG1.5).
“The B cells that produce antibodies against Omicron increased significantly, and the T cells were also strengthened by the vaccination,” explains the rheumatologist. “The data show that the new booster vaccine achieves its goal and also induces antibodies against new SARS-CoV-2 variants.”
What is different about this vaccine
Like the first coronavirus vaccines from Biontech and Moderna, the new booster is again an mRNA vaccine, i.e., it consists of messenger RNA. The principle is that the mRNA contains the genetic information for the blueprint of the so-called spike protein, which is located on the surface of the coronavirus and helps the virus enter the cells. This genetic information is read in the body’s cells, and the spike protein is produced. The immune system recognizes the protein as foreign to the body, triggers an immune response, and develops immune protection.
Unlike last season’s bivalent vaccines, the new vaccines only contain mRNA of the Omicron variant. “The new boosters nevertheless activate a defence to the rear and one to the front,” says Professor Dopfer-Jablonka. Only the Biontech vaccine was examined in the study. “However, as the Moderna vaccine is also adapted to XBB.1.5, we expect it to be equally effective.” The same applies to the booster vaccine from the manufacturer Novavax, which has also been adapted to XBB.1.5 and approved by the European Commission.
- source: kurier.at/picture: pixabay.com
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