Two doses of the current Pfizer vaccine provide 70 percent protection against hospitalization. This is evidenced by the first large-scale study conducted in South Africa, where the omikron variant now predominates. Protection from infection fell to 33 percent.
Watch a conversation with Professor Stephen van Gucht this morning about vaccines and how effective they are against omicron contamination:
South African scientists were the first to notice the new shape in late November, after which Omicron quickly became dominant. Nearly a month since the first case emerged in South Africa, researchers are evaluating the first large-scale study released by Discovery Health, the country’s largest health insurance company.
More than 211,000 positive samples – collected between November 15 and December 7 – have been analyzed, and as many as 78,000 are believed to come from the omikron variant. What does it look like? First and foremost, Pfizer’s vaccines – the vaccine with which most of the population has been vaccinated – still provide good protection against hospitalization. The chance that an infected person will end up in hospital is 29 percent lower than during the first coronavirus wave in March 2020.
On the other hand, the chance of infection appears to be much greater: Vaccines would still provide 33 percent protection against a (mild) infection. On the other hand, there is a general protection of 70% against serious complications.
The study results are somewhat consistent with previous findings collected in South Africa. For example, research by South African Professor Alex Segal has already shown that Omicron reduces the protection of vaccines, But the antibodies still have an efficacy of up to 70 percent.
The study was conducted only in South Africa, where the population is much smaller. Only 10 percent of the South African population is over 60 years old. Here about 25 per cent. In addition, barely a quarter of the population in South Africa is vaccinated, while the vaccination rate in Belgium (76 percent of the total population) is much higher.
Finally, not all of the 78000 omicron samples were DNA sequences, so it may be a different variant. The researchers performed a calculation based on the omicron share at the time of the study. This means that no firm conclusions can be drawn.
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