2 dose mRNA vaccine effectiveness drops to 35% against omicron; boosters raise defense level

New information from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that the two-dose mRNA vaccines, like Pfizer and Moderna, are only 35 percent effective against the omicron variant of COVID-19.

The new data was from South Africa and the United Kingdom, where the omicron variant was first detected and flagged by the World Health Organization.

“A COVID-19 vaccine booster dose restores vaccine effectiveness against infection to 75 percent,” the CDC said Monday. “COVID-19 vaccination decreases the risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19.”

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The news coupled with the CDC’s announcement to lower the isolation and quarantine recommendations from 10 days to 5 days for some situations has raised questions about what is next for COVID-19 in our region, especially with omicron.

“At some point this virus might mutate to a form that is no longer severe,” said Dr. Jeffrey Weinstein, Patient Safety Officer with Kettering Health Network. “This strain, Omicron, may not be that one. It’s really looking more and more like it is not the one”

Weinstein said viruses can work in two ways when they become mutated.

“You can see a virus mutate and become more severe and you can see a virus mutate and lose what we call pathogenicity, its ability to cause disease,” Weinstein said.

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Dr. Roberto Colon, chief medical officer at Miami Valley Hospital, said vaccination is still key in protecting yourself from serious illness and even warns people not to let their guard down after reports of the omicron variant causing fewer severe illnesses than the delta variant.

“We are seeing a lot of people ending up in the hospital who are not vaccinated, we are still seeing a lot of people who are severely ill,” Colon told News Center 7′s Mike Campbell. “We are finding the vaccines absolutely do offer the best chance of either avoiding this virus altogether or making this just be a nuisance.”

The CDC’s move to lower isolation and quarantine times comes as the government agency said “the change is motivated by science demonstrating that the majority of SARS-CoV-2 transmission occurs early in the course of illness, generally in the 1-2 days prior to onset of symptoms and the 2-3 days after.”

“Therefore, people who test positive should isolate for 5 days and, if asymptomatic at that time, they may leave isolation if they can continue to mask for 5 days to minimize the risk of infecting others,” the CDC said.