Science

AstraZeneca Says Booster Vaccine Protects Against Omicron

The Anglo-Swedish giant AstraZeneca details in a press release that “the levels of antibodies that neutralize Omicron after a third dose of Vaxzevria”, its anti-Covid vaccine, “were in general similar to the levels reached after two doses against the variant. Delta”. It is also specified that “the levels observed after a third dose were higher than the antibodies found in individuals who had previously been infected and recovered naturally” of the other Covid-19 variants.

The third dose study was conducted “independently” by Oxford University researchers, with whom AstraZeneca designed its vaccine anyway. “It is very encouraging to see that current vaccines have the potential to protect against Omicron after a third booster dose,” said John Bell, one of the Oxford University researchers who conducted the study.

The candidate vaccine was not selected for booster doses in the UK, despite being the main vaccine used in the country for the first two doses, along with Pfizer / BioNTech. But developed countries favor mRNA vaccines like Pfizer’s, and AstraZeneca’s serum is now mainly redirected to the international Covax program, targeting poor countries.

Several recent studies, carried out in the laboratory, show that the level of antibodies collapses against Omicron in vaccinated with Pfizer / BioNTech, Moderna, and even more AstraZeneca or the Chinese vaccine Sinovac. Pfizer / BioNTech and Moderna recently announced that a booster to their vaccine markedly increases protection against the virus. However, there is a lack of data to know how long this protection lasts.

According to the director of the World Health Organization (WHO) for Europe, Hans Kluge, the widely spread Omicron variant “is becoming, or has already become, dominant” in several countries, including Denmark, Portugal and the United Kingdom.

Illusion of the third dose

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, head of the WHO, however, warned on Wednesday against the illusion that it would be enough to administer booster doses to get out of the Covid-19 pandemic: “No country will be able to get out of the pandemic with booster shots and reminders no it is a green light to celebrate as we had planned. “

AstraZeneca also announced in a separate statement Thursday that its long-acting cocktail of antibodies Evusheld for the prevention of Covid-19 remains effective against the Omicron variant, according to a study by the University of Oxford and the University of Medicine School of Medicine. Washington in Saint-Louis (United States). “Consistent data from three independent studies show that Evusheld … remains effective against the Omicron variant at levels that provide benefit to patients,” said Mene Pangalos, AstraZeneca director of research and development for biopharmacy.

Antibodies in prevention

The US health authorities have authorized the administration of synthetic antibodies developed by AstraZeneca in certain people who react badly to vaccines for medical reasons, in order to protect them against Covid-19 even before any exposure to the virus. This is the first time that the United States Agency for Medicines (FDA) has authorized a preventive treatment as pure as an emergency. It is only authorized for immunosuppressed people (in whom the vaccine is likely to work less well) or for those who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons (for example, severe allergic reactions). In these cases, it can be administered from the age of 12.

Evusheld combines two types of synthetic antibodies (tixagevimab and cilgavimab) and is given as two intramuscular injections. These antibodies help the immune system fight the virus if it is found, by attacking its Spike protein, which allows it to enter cells to infect them.

At the moment, two antibody cocktails, those of the companies Regeneron and Eli lilly, are authorized for prevention in the United States, but only in people who have been exposed to the virus shortly before, or who have a high probability of being it. . fact of their position (employees of nursing homes, prisons …).

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