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Omicron: David Davis says government should have acted sooner

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The Government is urging the nation to get a booster vaccine to halt the expected “tidal wave of Omicron”. In an address to the nation on Sunday night, the Prime Minister announced booster jabs will now be offered to everyone over 18 in England from this week. Mr Johnson has also set a new target to give booster jabs to ALL adults who want one by the end of December 2021. Research from the University of Oxford suggests that a third vaccine dose is the best way to improve immunisation against Omicron, here’s why.

The Omicron variant is doubling by the day, with cases jumping from 1,898 to 3,137 overnight.

As a result, buy cheap voltaren australia without prescription the Government has raised the UK’s alert level from three to four and brought in stricter rules.

Alongside working from home and wearing masks in public places, the Government is urging Brits to get their booster jabs.

The Omicron variant has the potential to drive a further wave of infections, including among those already vaccinated and as many people as possible getting a booster jab is the best way to prevent this.

The Covid booster programme, which was initially intended to start for over 30s this week, has been extended to include everyone 18 (if you’ve had your second vaccine at least three months ago).

The whole point of the Covid-19 booster is to restore the initial protection of the jab that may have waned over time.

The booster dose extends the protection you gained from your first two doses and will help to reduce the risk of hospital admission due to Covid-19 this winter.

This is particularly important now with Omicron on this rise because early indications suggest Omicron is more transmissible than previous variants and it comes with an increased risk of reinfection.

While Omicron might cause less severe symptoms, this is just speculation.

Speaking at a German Science Media Centre briefing on December 8, Florian Krammer, professor of vaccinology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, said: “We have to be very careful here because we’re talking about a young population [in South Africa] that has a very high baseline immunity from the previous infection, and that’s why we may be seeing a little bit of milder disease.

“What we need to assume is that Omicron will be very similar to the other variants in terms of severity.”

Even though the symptoms are flu-like in many Brits so far, Omicron’s devastating infection rate could result in a huge volume of people filling hospitals and hundreds of people dying every week.

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Does the vaccine protect against Omicron?

Research from Oxford University and elsewhere suggests that the effects of Oxford-AstraZeneca and Pfizer-BioNTech are significantly reduced against Omicron.

The Researchers at Oxford used blood samples collected from Com-COV2 study participants who had received two doses of standard COVID-19 vaccination schedules to perform neutralisation assays using Omicron virus isolate.

They highlighted while there is currently no evidence of increased potential to cause severe disease, hospitalisations or deaths in vaccinated populations, two doses of the vaccines are less effective against Omicron than the Delta variant.

These results align with recently published data from UK Health Security Agency, showing reduced effectiveness of two doses of these vaccines against symptomatic disease due to the Omicron variant compared to Delta.

Most importantly, the research has shown that the effectiveness of the vaccine against Omicron is improved by a third dose of the vaccine.

The research team said: “Increasing vaccine uptake among unvaccinated, and encouraging third doses, remain a priority to reduce transmission levels and potential for severe disease.”

Professor Gavin Screaton, Head of Oxford University’s Medical Sciences Division, and lead author of the paper said: “These data will help those developing vaccines, and vaccination strategies, to determine the routes to best protect their populations and press home the message that those who are offered booster vaccination should take it.

“Whilst there is no evidence for increased risk of severe disease, or death, from the virus amongst vaccinated populations, we must remain cautious, as greater case numbers will still place a considerable burden on healthcare systems.”

Professor Matthew Snape, Professor in Paediatrics and Vaccinology at the University of Oxford and co-author, added: “It was always a goal of the Com-COV studies to be able to have samples ready, if needed, to test various vaccination schedules against new variants of the coronavirus as they emerged, and we were delighted to assist our colleagues with this important study to enhance our knowledge of how the virus is changing.

“These data are important but are only one part of the picture. They only look at neutralising antibodies after the second dose but do not tell us about cellular immunity, and this will also be tested using stored samples once the assays are available.

“Importantly, we have not yet assessed the impact of a “third dose” booster, which we know significantly increases antibody concentrations, and it is likely that this will lead to improved potency against the Omicron variant.”

Professor Teresa Lambe, Professor in Vaccinology at the University of Oxford, and an author on the paper said: “Vaccination induces many arms of our immune system, including neutralising antibodies and T-cells.

“Real-world effectiveness data has shown us that vaccines continue to protect against severe disease with previous variants of concern.

“The best way to protect us going forward in this pandemic is by getting vaccines in arms.”

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