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Study finds three Covid-19 doses didn’t prevent Omicron but protected against severe disease

Published Jan 19, 2022

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A RECENT study conducted by South African and German scientists found that breakthrough infections with the Omicron variant occurred in a small group of people who had received three doses of a Covid-19 vaccine.

The study, published in The Lancet, is the first in the world to report that three vaccine doses may not be sufficient to prevent infection with the Omicron variant, however, the vaccine did prevent against severe disease.

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Authors of the study said the data confirms there is insufficient protection against Omicron infection even after a booster vaccine dose.

“These findings support the need for updated vaccines to provide better protection against symptomatic infection with Omicron and emphasise that non-pharmaceutical measures should be maintained,” according to the authors.

A group of scientists from Stellenbosch University (SU), Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich in Germany, the University of the Western Cape, the University of Cape Town, and scientists from the National Health Laboratory Service led the study.

The study examined seven German visitors to Cape Town who had received three doses of vaccines but were infected with the Omicron variant in late November 2021.

All seven in the group were fully vaccinated. Here are the shots they received:

– Five had received two doses of the Pfizer vaccine and later a booster dose of Pfizer.

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– One received two Pfizer shots and a booster dose of Moderna Spikevax.

– One individual received an initial dose of AstraZeneca, followed by a dose of Pfizer and later a Pfizer booster.

One of the seven German visitors and the study’s joint first author, Constanze Kuhlmann from the Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich contacted Prof Wolfgang Preiser, Head of the Division of Medical Virology at SU’s Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences to conduct the study.

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Preiser said at the time, South Africa had yet to introduce booster vaccinations and that it was beneficial to observe and study the breakthrough infections.

“The presence of this group of Germans in South Africa, when it became the first country to experience a pandemic wave driven by the Omicron variant, presented a unique opportunity to generate highly relevant and sorely needed information on the implications of the newly emerged variant for vaccination,” he said.

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