The first data available for Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine suggests a third booster dose will be effective against omicron, the variant that is rapidly taking over the world.

Moderna announced Monday morning that blood taken from 20 individuals who had received the Moderna booster, 50 micrograms in size, contained 37 times more neutralizing antibodies than blood drawn from two people.

Moderna reduced its booster dose to half that of the two original shots in order to minimize side effects, such as fever, muscle aches and fatigue.

A group that received a third shot of the higher, 100-microgram dose saw an 83-fold jump in neutralizing antibodies against omicron.

Dr. Eric Topol, founder and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute, said such a big increase isn’t necessary to provide protection. Pfizer released a study earlier this month with its partner BioNTech showing that the third dose of their COVID-19 vaccination increased neutralizing antibody against omicron levels by over 25 percent. While Topol believes it should provide protection, more real-world evidence is required to support it.

“I think it’s pretty encouraging,” he said. “We’ll take any positive we can get.”

Moderna’s CEO Stéphane Bancel said in a news release that his company is working to develop an omicron-specific booster should one become necessary and continues to advance booster candidates to address new, concerning variants.

The company continues to test a shot which includes both the original vaccine and a variant-specific booster. According to the release, the company will continue with the booster plan it has in place based on the results of the study and due to the difficulties of creating a new vaccine.

In the news also:

►The NFL delayed three games, the NBA postponed five, and the NHL stopped cross-border games and shut down a sixth team due to COVID-19 outbreaks.

►Canada reinstated a border COVID-19 testing requirement for short trips as the omicron variant spreads across the world. 

📈Today’s numbers: The U.S. has recorded more than 50.7 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 806,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Global totals: More than 274.6 million cases and 5.3 million deaths. More than 203.9 million Americans – 61.4% of the population – are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

📘We’re looking at: A study by Oregon researchers finds that people fully vaccinated against COVID-19 who have breakthrough infections end up with what the authors call “super immunity.” They caution the vaccinated should not seek COVID-19 infection, but the “hybrid immunity” offers some solace for those who catch one despite having been vaccinated. 

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Senators Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker test positive for COVID-19

Senators Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker have tested positive for COVID-19 in breakthrough cases, they each announced on Twitter Sunday.

“I regularly test for COVID & while I tested negative earlier this week, today I tested positive with a breakthrough case. Thankfully, I am only experiencing mild symptoms & am grateful for the protection provided against serious illness that comes from being vaccinated & boosted,” Warren was the author

Booker tweets: “I learned today that I tested positive for COVID-19 after first feeling symptoms on Saturday. My symptoms are mild. I’m beyond grateful to have received two doses of vaccine and, more recently, a booster – I’m certain that without them I would be doing much worse.”

The senators from Massachusetts and New Jersey have both been vocal proponents of the COVID-19 vaccine in Washington. Warren lost her older brother to the virus in May 2020. 

The democrats are just two of several senators who have tested positive for COVID despite being fully vaccinated, including Lindsay Graham, R-SC and John Hickenlooper, D-Colo.

Warren’s and Booker’s positive tests come amid a rise of COVID-19 cases across the nation and the omicron variant, which Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious diseases expert, said has an “extraordinary capability of spreading.”

— Celina Tebor, USA TODAY

Contributing: The Associated Press; Karen Weintraub, USA TODAY



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