Omicron-adapted Covid19 vaccines 80% effective in those 65 and older

JERUSALEM, 10 Jan 2023:

New Covid19 vaccines adapted to the omicron variant have reduced hospitalisations for the disease among those over 65 by 81%, according to research carried out in Israel – a country that pioneered the vaccination campaign during the pandemic.

The study, focused on Pfizer’s updated vaccines that launched in the summer, found these shots have also reduced the risk of death in that age group by 86%, the study said.

The research has been led by Israeli doctor Ronen Arbel, a researcher at Sapir College, and has been published in the Social Science Research Network, based on data from the application of this vaccine in Israel.

This is the first large-scale evaluation in the world of the bivalent doses of the Covid19 vaccine, adapted to new variants.

According to Arbel’s studies, since only one death from Covid19 has been registered among the people who received the booster against the omicron, the effectiveness against mortality is considered a less reliable indicator than the statistics on hospitalisations.

Although the study focuses on Pfizer vaccines, it is optimistic about the new Moderna doses, since it uses similar technology.

The study called bivalent boosters “an effective and essential tool” to reduce the risks of death and disease from Covid19 among people over.

Arbel, also a researcher at Israel’s largest health mutual, Clalit, is part of a group of academics whose previous studies were consulted by American vaccine policy makers before approving the third and fourth doses.

For this study, the anonymous data of all Clalit members over 65 who received the first vaccines against Covid19, more than 500,000 people, were analysed; and hospitalisations and deaths were compared between those who received the omicron booster from September and those who did not.

Dr Doron Netzer, head of Clalit’s department of medicine and another study author, called the research “encouraging” given that the bivalent vaccine was introduced with limited data on its effectiveness.

“The vaccine was approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration in an emergency procedure without efficacy studies regarding the prevention of serious disease. So there was uncertainty in the world about its usefulness.

“The results of the study we conducted show unequivocally that the omicron vaccine is significantly associated with reduced risk of mortality from hospitalisations and mortality from the coronavirus, including many of the current omicron strains,” he added in a statement to Israeli media.