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3 COVID-19 vaccine shots won’t stop omicron variant, BioNTech leader says

Will three vaccine shots be enough to stop the omicron variant?

A child receives a second dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.
An 8-year-old child receives a second dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at Northwest Community Church in Chicago, Saturday, Dec. 11, 2021.
Nam Y. Huh, Associated Press

The COVID-19 vaccine shots won’t be enough to combat the omicron variant, according to Ugur Sahin, the CEO of vaccine developer BioNTech.

  • “We must be aware that even triple-vaccinated are likely to transmit the disease,” he told French daily Le Monde.
  • “It is obvious we are far from 95 percent effectiveness that we obtained against the initial virus,” he added.
  • He added that the vaccine is now 70% to 75% effective against stopping COVID-19 infection.

Sahin said vaccine efficacy has been dropping against omicron, which is a sign that the vaccines aren’t enough, according to Euro News.

  • “There will be a loss of effectiveness against Omicron over time, it’s very likely, but it’s still to be measured how quickly. I will not base predictions on preliminary laboratory data but on real-life data, which is much more appropriate,” Sahin said.

That’s why consistent testing is important for monitoring the spread of the virus, he said.

Indeed, a recent study from researchers at Columbia University suggested that the omicron variant of COVID-19 is “markedly resistant” to the COVID-19 vaccines, antibody treatments and COVID-19 vaccine booster shots, as I wrote for the Deseret News.

  • Experts have been advising unvaccinated people to get vaccinated against COVID-19, and for fully vaccinated people to get their vaccine booster shots.

Early data suggest that the omicron variant causes less severe COVID-19 symptoms and hospitalizations, though, per the Deseret News. But this is all based on early data and it may take time to assess the severity of the coronavirus variant.