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Dr. Fauci says there’s no need for an omicron vaccine

It turns out we might not need an omicron vaccine

Dr. Anthony Fauci speaks to Congress.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, listens during a Senate Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Hearing on the federal government response to COVID-19 Capitol Hill in Washington. Fauci said the COVID-19 booster shots appear to be stopping the omicron variant.
Graeme Jennings, Associated Press

The COVID-19 booster shots appear to be stopping the omicron variant, raising doubt that we will need an omicron-specific vaccine in the future, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Fauci, the White House chief medical adviser on the coronavirus, said Wednesday that there is no need to change the current booster shots to be more directed at omicron, CNBC reports.

  • “Our booster vaccine regimens work against omicron,” Fauci said. “At this point, there is no need for a variant-specific booster.”

Fauci said that the original two-dose regimen of the vaccine still works to fight off omicron pretty well, though there is less protection.

  • “Obviously, this is significantly down but there is the maintaining of a degree of protection against hospitalization,” Fauci said.

Fauci’s comments come after both Pfizer and Moderna said they’d develop an omicron-specific COVID-19 booster shot, which wouldn’t be available until early 2022.

But it appears the specific booster might not be needed. New research suggests the omicron COVID-19 variant causes less severe symptoms among vaccinated infected patients, per The Washington Post. In fact, a new study found the omicron variant can evade COVID-19 vaccines, but it often leads to less severe symptoms when it does so.

Gavin Screaton, head of Oxford University’s Medical Sciences Division and lead author of the paper, said that the booster shots protect people en masse, though, so they’re important for the future of fighting omicron.

  • “Whilst there is no evidence for increased risk of severe disease, or death, from the virus amongst vaccinated populations, we must remain cautious, as greater case numbers will still place a considerable burden on health care systems,” he said, per CNBC.