People who have had a booster jab are 90% less likely to die with Covid-19 than those who had just two shots, according to a huge new study.
Researchers looked at nearly 850,000 vaccinated people aged 50 and over in Israel who had been given a second Pfizer jab at least five months earlier.
It found that an average of just 0.16 boosted people died per 100,000 per day (some 65 people among nearly three quarters of a million).
That compares to 2.98 in the double-jabbed group (137 out of roughly 85,000) – a rate that is still far, far lower than in unvaccinated people who get infected.
More than 750,000 of the participants received their third jab in the 54-day research period, the study in the New England Journal of Medicine said.
The authors wrote: ‘Participants who received a booster at least 5 months after a second dose of BNT162b2 had 90% lower mortality due to Covid-19 than participants who did not receive a booster.’
But the study refers to the Delta variant and it is unclear what impact Omicron will have on its validity.
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Scientists believe waning immunity could make people increasingly vulnerable to the virus as more time elapsing from when they last had a jab.
The UK is currently rolling out third jabs, which the government hopes will protect people from serious illness and the NHS from being overwhelmed.
Meanwhile, Pfizer announced that three doses of its coronavirus vaccine does appear to neutralise the new Omicron strain.
Alongside partners BioNTech, it said preliminary studies showed that Omicron can infect double-jabbed people but that two doses will provide good protection against severe disease because the body uses a range of immune cells, including T cells, for protection.
And when it comes to boosters, three doses of the vaccine increased neutralising antibody titers against Omicron in people’s blood 25-fold compared with two doses.
Experts said that showed that booster doses should offer good protection against Omicron.
Laboratory studies showed that the antibody levels reached with three doses of the vaccine were just as good as for two doses against the original Wuhan strain of the virus, which have already been shown to offer high levels of protection.
In a statement, Pfizer and BioNTech said that two doses may still induce protection against severe disease, although people may still get infected.
But the companies said the two doses ‘may not be sufficient to protect against infection with the Omicron variant’.
‘However, as the vast majority of epitopes targeted by vaccine-induced T cells are not affected by the mutations in Omicron, the companies believe that vaccinated individuals may still be protected against severe forms of the disease, and are closely monitoring real-world effectiveness against Omicron, globally’, the firms added.
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