New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show the updated (bivalent) boosters significantly increase protection against COVID-19. The problem? Most people have not yet gotten the updated vaccine, even if they’re eligible.
“[B]ivalent boosters provided significant additional protection against symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection in persons who had previously received 2, 3, or 4 monovalent vaccine doses,” says the CDC report. Furthermore, the boosters “restored protection that had decreased since receiving the last vaccine dose.”
Bivalent COVID boosters increase protection
The CDC’s study included 360,626 tests from persons aged ≥18 who have reported COVID-19-compatible symptoms. Of these, 121,687 (34%) persons received positive test results.
“Among these case-patients, 28,874 (24%) reported being unvaccinated, 87,013 (72%) had received 2, 3, or 4 monovalent vaccine doses but no bivalent booster dose, and 5,800 (5%) had received a bivalent booster dose.”
Among the rest of the 238,939 patients included in the study who received negative test results, “72,010 (30%) reported being unvaccinated, 150,455 (63%) had received 2, 3, or 4 monovalent vaccine doses but no bivalent booster dose, and 16,474 (7%) had received a bivalent booster dose.”
“Relative vaccine effectiveness (rVE) of a bivalent booster dose compared with that of ≥2 monovalent vaccine doses among persons for whom 2–3 months and ≥8 months had elapsed since last monovalent dose was 30% and 56% among persons aged 18–49 years, 31% and 48% among persons aged 50–64 years, and 28% and 43% among persons aged ≥65 years, respectively,” explains the study.
According to the study, “aVE of a bivalent booster dose received after ≥2 monovalent doses (compared with being unvaccinated) was similar among persons aged 50–64 years (28%) and ≥65 years (22%) but varied somewhat by number of previous monovalent vaccine doses. Among adults aged 18–49 years, aVE after ≥2 monovalent doses (43%) was higher than that for older age groups and did not vary among those who received 2 or 3 previous monovalent vaccine doses.”
The CDC study “evaluated aVE and rVE by number of previous monovalent doses received and generally found similar additional benefit of the bivalent vaccine regardless of the number of previous monovalent vaccine doses received, when controlling for time since receipt of the last monovalent dose.”
“These findings support the current COVID-19 vaccination policy recommending a bivalent booster dose for adults who have completed at least a primary mRNA vaccination series, irrespective of the number of monovalent doses previously received,” the CDC study concludes.
We need to incentivize vaccination, boosting
People ages 12+ who got the updated booster were 15 times less likely to die from COVID-19 than those who were not vaccinated.
But there’s one problem: As of December 1, only 12.7% of people ages 5+ (and 32.6% of people 65+) have gotten the updated booster. And many children under five aren’t getting the COVID vaccine at all, POLITICO reported in September.
“There are three pillars to preparing for the upcoming season, as well as any other season, and the first one is vaccination,” Roche Diagnostics’ Dr. Jamie Deeter told Bio.News. “Get the flu vaccine and get boosted for COVID-19. Now is the right time.”