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Booster Shots Won't Stop Omicron: Top Medical Experts

In the last 24 hours, up to 9 a.m. on Friday, India reported more than 347,250 new COVID-19 cases. With the recovery of 2,51,777 new cases, the active caseload for the country now stands at 20,18,825. There are currently 9,692 cases of Omicron in the country, an increase of 4.36 per cent since yesterday.

Booster Shots And Omicron: Opinions From Experts Around The Globe

1. ICMR Expert States Booster Shots Not Effective

In the midst of rising cases of COVID-19 variant omicron in the country, a report has emerged that claims the virus is unstoppable and will spread to everyone. According to Dr Jaiprakash Muliyil, epidemiologist and chairperson of the Scientific Advisory Committee of the National Institute of Epidemiology at the Indian Council of Medical Research, booster vaccine doses will not prevent the rapid spread of the virus [1].

Additionally, he stated that the booster dose would not have any effect. However, an infection is likely to occur. "It has occurred around the world regardless of the booster doses," he added. Nevertheless, he stressed that COVID-19 is no longer an intimidating disease. The new variant is milder than the Delta variant and practically unstoppable. "The new strain is milder and is causing fewer hospitalisations, so we can manage it," he added [2].

He asserted that natural immunity through infection might last a lifetime, explaining why India has not been affected as badly as many other nations. It was noted that medical bodies recommended booster doses and stated that booster doses would not prevent the spread of the disease naturally.

2. BioNTech CEO Ugur Sahin States Booster Shots Not Enough

Earlier in December, Ugur Sahin, the CEO of vaccine developer BioNTech, had said something on the similar lines, stating that the COVID-19 vaccine shots along with the booster shot won't be enough to combat the omicron variant.

According to Sahin, vaccine effectiveness has declined against omicron, suggesting that the vaccines are insufficient. Therefore, it is very likely that Omicron will lose effectiveness over time, but how quickly this will occur remains to be seen. "I will not base predictions on preliminary laboratory data but on real-life data, which is much more appropriate," he further stated [3].

3. Researchers At Columbia University Marks Omicron Vaccine-Resistant

Researchers at Columbia University have recently concluded that the omicron variant of COVID-19 is highly resistant to COVID-19 vaccines, antibody treatments and COVID-19 vaccine booster shots. It appears that the omicron variant is less likely to cause severe COVID-19 symptoms and hospitalisations. However, the researchers added that these results are based on early data, and it will take time to assess the severity of the Coronavirus variant [4].

4. Boosters Aren't The Answer To Omicron, The Vaccine Alliance

GAVI, or the Vaccine Alliance, is a public-private partnership that aims to increase access to vaccination in developing countries [5]. Although clinical infections with Omicron seem more resistant to vaccines, to our best knowledge, global vaccination remains the most effective means of protecting people from severe disease and death. As early as the Omicron era, vaccination likely prevented the overwhelming of health systems and slowed transmission, preventing further mutations and new variants from emerging [6].

Essentially if the priority with each new variant is to reopen society through boosters instead of tackling the root cause - the fact that nearly 3.5 billion people are not vaccinated - then the world could face a continuous cycle of resurgences and leave the door open for more dangerous variants, they pointed out.

While experts around the globe agree on the fact that while hospitalisations are less in the case of Omicron, their stand on the efficacy of booster shots remain opposed.