For the majority of Americans who thought getting their bivalent COVID booster would keep them from getting the virus, the CDC is issuing a reality check, reporting that is not the case when it comes to the new XBB.1.5 subvariant.
(Video Credit: KPIX CBS SF Bay Area)
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued its findings on Wednesday. It found the updated vaccines were just 48 percent effective at stopping symptomatic infection caused by the XBB.1.5 subvariant for up to three months. The variant appears to be so infectious because it binds better to cells than other XXB Omicron strains, according to the Daily Mail.
The media is spinning the booster shots as being effective against the variant even though it reportedly works less than half the time in keeping someone from falling ill.
For the CDC’s part, they contend that the vaccines are meant to prevent hospitalization and death rather than transmission and are calling the rollout of the latest version a success. The agency is claiming that they are still expected to give high protection against severe illness. But that doesn’t mean you won’t get COVID.
The United States government paid $5 billion for the bivalent shots last fall. The report shows that the vaccines fall short of the World Health Organization’s 50 percent efficacy threshold for being effective.
A new @CDCMMWR finds updated #COVID19 vaccine adds protection against Omicron XBB-related variants. Stay up to date on COVID-19 vaccines for the best protection against new variants. Learn more: https://t.co/Wdl5KZXftL pic.twitter.com/64yo6KX1BN
— CDC (@CDCgov) January 25, 2023
When this all started in 2020, Pfizer and Moderna vaccine clinical trials boasted they could reduce rates of symptomatic infection by 95 percent. As the virus mutated and spread, the vaccines lost effectiveness, at one point falling as low as 36 percent.
The Omicron variant efficiently evaded protection from the COVID jab. But since it was not nearly as severe as the original strain, deaths leveled off. Newer subvariants have also bypassed the effectiveness of the vaccines.
New versions of the vaccine are constantly being issued by pharma manufacturers trying to stave off the new variants. There has been very limited success with that using bivalent shots.
In a document that was posted online Monday, the FDA proposed using the bivalent formula in all COVID vaccines moving forward, not just for booster shots.
The XBB.1.5 subvariant is now responsible for 49 percent of CDC-sequenced cases and has become the most prevalent strain in America according to the agency.
Data was gathered from a government COVID testing initiative spanning December 1 of last year to January 22 by CDC researchers for the study. Many of the study participants had received four or five vaccine doses.
For participants 65 and older, the effectiveness of the jab fell to 37 percent against BA.5 and 43 percent against XBB/XBB.1.5.
BREAKING: A new and more dangerous
Covid variant has been detected.
It's called BS-24/7.
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Stay safe everyone.
— Isabella Maria DeLuca (@IsabellaMDeLuca) January 24, 2023
With the rapid spread of Omicron, much of America has developed a natural immunity to it. Now that Omicron is in the rearview mirror, so-called experts are dubbing the XBB.1.5 subvariant the most vaccine-resistant strain of the virus to emerge yet. Initially, some of these same experts claimed it was the most vaccine-resistant strain ever due to highly mutated spike proteins.
Dr. Brendan Jackson, who is the head of the US CDC COVID response, asserted that the updated vaccine reduces the risk of death from COVID by more than twofold, compared with vaccinated people who had not received the bivalent booster according to the Daily Mail.
The report also claims that compared to the unvaccinated, the updated shot reduces the risk of death from COVID nearly 13-fold.
CDC study author Ruth Link-Gelles noted that the vaccines cut the risk of symptomatic infection by about half in a population, but individuals can see a different benefit depending on their risk factors.
Data indicates that only 15 percent of Americans have opted for an updated COVID booster shot.
Dr. Greg Poland, who is the director of the Mayo Clinic Vaccine Research Group in Rochester, Minnesota, cautioned that the CDC’s estimate on the updated boosters may be an overestimate, according to NBC News.
People who got the updated boosters are probably “much more likely to wear masks indoors or restrain their travel or not go to indoor restaurants,” he stated.
He also noted that the CDC data doesn’t capture people who were vaccinated with the updated booster but were asymptomatic or people who were sick enough that they went to the hospital.
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