The new talk related to the vaccine and COVID is now OMICRON. “Today, CDC is strengthening its recommendation on booster doses for individuals who are 18 years and older,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in a statement. Adding, “Early data from South Africa suggest increased transmissibility of the Omicron variant, and scientists in the United States and around the world are urgently examining vaccine effectiveness related to this variant. I strongly encourage the 47 million adults who are not yet vaccinated to get vaccinated as soon as possible and to vaccinate the children and teens in their families as well because strong immunity will likely prevent serious illness.”
Previously, the CDC said people should get a booster if they are 50 and older, or 18 and older and living in long term care. Otherwise, it advised that anyone 18 and older may get a booster. Now the word “should” applies to everyone 18 and older.
CDC will be watching for Omicron to appear in the US. That requires an extra step of testing as the tests used to diagnose Covid-19 won’t tell people which variant they are infected with.
The variant has not yet been detected in the U.S. The World Health Organization, in a paper published Sunday, warned that global risk posed by omicron is “very high.” The variant has more than 30 mutations on its spike protein alone, some of which are associated with higher transmission and reduced antibody protection. The WHO said these mutations could fuel future surges of infection with “severe consequences.”
Moderna and Pfizer said they will have more data on how much the heavily mutated strain will affect the strength of currently available vaccines in about two weeks. The companies maintain that they can adjust their vaccines relatively quickly to combat new variants.