Omicron variant: How effective are the booster jabs?

In response to the rising number of Omicron cases, the UK government has taken urgent steps to facilitate everyone with booster jabs. But how effective are they really?

The immense mutations of the Omicron variant have uncovered serious flaws in the efficacy of the original COVID-19 vaccines. While a full course of the vaccines is sure to lower the risks of serious illness, it sure is not enough to prevent getting infected.

This is where the booster dose of the vaccines come in. With case numbers rising at an alarming rate, the UK government has taken the initiative to provide everyone with additional jabs.

A booster jab is essentially an additional shot of the same old vaccines. For all intents and purposes, the COVID-19 vaccines were developed at the beginning of the pandemic to ward off the original strain.

If the original vaccine is not adept at fighting off the new Omicron variant, you may ask, why would a booster jab made up of the same content make a difference?

The other major change brought about since the emergence of the Omicron variant are the restoration of mandatory PCR tests for foreign travel. Book yours today:

Image Relating Covid-19 Vaccine to Global Travel

The body’s reaction to the booster jab

Though the booster jabs may be identical to the original jabs, the human immune system responds differently to them. The resultant protection from the additional dose is more effective and longer-lasting.

The first dose of the vaccine introduced your immune system to Covid and the risks it poses, and the second dose only furthered the lesson. In other words, the body was given the knowledge and tools to fight off the virus should it have to.

The booster jab will serve to build upon what the immune system already knows and is able to do.

Professor Johnathan Ball, a University of Nottingham virologist, said, ‘The immune system is left with a richer knowledge and understanding of the virus.’

He explained that despite Omicron’s severe mutation, if the body’s immune system is properly trained, the virus will find itself in ‘an incredibly difficult and hostile environment.’

Antibody evolution

The other big factor is the antibodies. Antibodies are proteins that stick themselves around the outside of the virus and neutralize it. Basically, a virus cell that has antibodies attached to its outer surface cannot attack your system.

Once a booster jab is administered, your antibodies benefit from evolution within the body’s immune system. The body seeks out stronger, more effective antibodies to fight against the virus. This triggered evolution process is referred to as affinity maturation.

Prof Danny Altmann of Imperial College London said, ‘Your antibodies are a better fit as time goes on; they are getting fancier and more sophisticated.’

COVID-19 Vaccine

While affinity maturation does indeed result in superior quality antibodies, there is also a major growth in the number of antibodies produced.

Prof Charles Bangham, also of Imperial College London, said, ‘You get more of them, the concentration in the blood increases and we don’t know how long this is going to last, but the more times you’re vaccinated, the longer-lasting the immune memory is.’

He also said, ‘Immunity against a virus is almost never absolute – you can almost always get re-infected and what you want to do is get re-infection so trivial you don’t know you’ve got it, or it’s very mild.’

The takeaway?

Experts believe the booster jab will assist in better fighting against the Omicron variant. Research and real-world data also tend to indicate the same.



Advent Calendar of Deals

Sign up to our newsletter and we’ll send you exclusive access to our Advent Calendar of Deals.