Hong Kong researchers call for third COVID-19 shot after new Omicron study

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Vials labeled “Coronavirus COVID-19 VACCINE” and a syringe can be seen in front of the displayed words “OMICRON SARS-COV-2” in this illustration taken on December 11, 2021. REUTERS / Dado Ruvic / Illustration

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HONG KONG, Dec.15 (Reuters) – (This article from Dec. 14 corrects paragraph 3 to say that the serum contained no detectable antibodies, no insufficient antibodies; add supply. Corrects paragraph 4 to say that neutralizing antibodies were detected in 20-24% of BioNTech recipients, not that vaccine efficacy was reduced to 20-24%.)

Researchers in Hong Kong have urged people to receive a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible, after a study found insufficient antibodies to be generated by the products Sinovac (SVA.O) and BioNTech (22UAy. DE) to repel Omicron.

The publication on Tuesday of the results of a study conducted by scientists in the Department of Microbiology at the University of Hong Kong was the first preliminary data published on the impact of Sinovac’s vaccine against the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

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None of the sera from the 25 Coronavac vaccine recipients contained detectable antibodies that neutralized the new variant, according to the preprint study that was accepted for publication in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, the researchers said.

According to the study, only 20% to 24% of recipients of the BioNTech vaccine had detectable neutralizing antibodies against Omicron.

“The public is advised to receive a third dose of the vaccine as soon as possible while waiting for the next generation of a more suitable vaccine,” the researchers said in a press release.

The study, funded by the Hong Kong government, was carried out by microbiologists Yuen Kwok-yung, Kelvin To and Chen Honglin.

Sinovac did not immediately respond to questions about the study, but a spokesperson said its own lab tests showed that a third dose of its vaccine was effective in producing Omicron antibodies.

BioNTech did not immediately respond to questions about the study.

The fast-spreading Delta variant remains dominant around the world, and it is not clear whether Omicron is inherently more contagious, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in a brief on Sunday.

Scientists say it is still too early to know whether Omicron is causing COVID-19 to be more or less severe than previous variants.

A study of real-world data released on Tuesday showed Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine to be less effective in South Africa at preventing hospitalization of people infected with the virus since the Omicron variant appeared last month . Read more

Last week, the two companies said that a three-dose cycle of their vaccine neutralized Omicron in a lab test, an early sign that booster shots could be essential in protecting against it. Read more

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Report by Greg Torode and Roxanne Liu in Beijing; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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