Protection site

Booster shots offer ‘much better protection’ against symptomatic COVID-19

Over the past two days, as understaffed hospitals struggle to keep their floors clean of excrement and army troops deployed to drive ambulances, NSW’s top doctor has pleaded with the public to get a booster shot.

“I can’t stress enough the urgency of getting reminders,” she said.

It is not news that a booster, or a third COVID-19 vaccine (either Moderna or Pfizer) has been necessitated by the highly infectious and vaccine-resistant Omicron variant.

What’s new is good evidence that booster shots provide much better protection against symptomatic illness, serious illness, and death.

Public health policy is betting the farm on boosters mitigating the Omicron crisis.

On Wednesday, millions more Australians became immediately eligible for COVID booster shots after changes in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.

Those states reduced the interval between second and third COVID-19 injections from four months to three on Wednesday.

More than five million people will be able to get a third vaccination at state-run vaccination centers.

Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said it may take a third shot to get people out certified as fully vaccinated.

But will it make a difference?

Yes, a big difference.

UK researchers analyzing data from ongoing study VOC-Boost test, found that for people who received two shots of the AstraZeneca vaccine, a Pfizer booster is 89.6% effective in preventing symptomatic illness, compared to double vaccination.

A Moderna booster is 95.3% efficient.

For those who received doses of Pfizer first, the relative effectiveness of the Pfizer booster is 82.8% and Moderna 90.9% compared to double vaccination.

This means that with a booster shot you can test positive for the virus, but in many cases you won’t show any signs of illness.

The authors conclude: “This to study provides concrete evidence of significant increased protection of the booster dose against mild and severe disease, regardless of primary treatment.

Good news for seniors

The reminders appear to be keeping more older people out of hospital.

According to figures from the UK Health Security Agency, around three months after receiving the third strike, protection against hospitalization for people aged 65 and over remains at around 90%.

With only two doses of vaccine, protection against serious disease drops to around 70% after three months and 50% after six months.

With a booster dose, “duration of protection against severe disease remains high, protection against mild symptomatic infections is shorter and drops to about 30% in about three months.”

Significantly reduced risk of death

Two large studies, conducted in Israel and published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found a significant improvement in protection against serious illness and death in people who received a booster shot.

A study looked at data from more than 840,000 vaccinated people aged 50 or older, 90% of whom received a booster shot.

The death rate was 0.16 per 100,000 people per day in the booster group versus 2.98 per 100,000 people per day in the group that received only two injections.

The second study concerned nearly 4.7 million vaccinated people aged 16 or over.

Across all age groups, “COVID-19 cases and severe illness were significantly lower among those who received a booster, as were deaths among those aged 60 or older who received a booster.”

The Journal of the American Medical Association noted that: “Together, the results indicated that COVID-19 boosters have a relative effectiveness of 90% to 95% against severe illness or death.”

In the New England Journal of Medicine, columnist Dr Minal K. Patel, of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s International COVID-19 Response Task Force, noted that the studies “provide much-needed evidence for the effectiveness of the booster dose”.

To book a booster shot in a pharmacy, go to here.

For the Australian Government Vaccination Clinic Investigator, go here.