Latest COVID Vaccine Offers Increased Protection
In a promising development, recent studies indicate that the most recent COVID-19 vaccine provides 54% more protection against symptomatic infection compared to unvaccinated individuals. This news is a ray of hope amidst the ongoing pandemic and attests to the efficacy of the latest vaccines in combating the virus.
Fighting the JN 1 Variant
A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that the JN 1 COVID-19 variant now accounts for more than 93 percent of cases. The variant is highly transmissible, posing a significant threat to public health. However, the latest COVID-19 vaccine appears to be effective in mitigating the JN 1 variant's impact, providing similar protection levels against both the XBB lineage variants and the JN 1 variant.
Despite these promising results, the CDC expects that protection from the updated vaccine will decline over time, leading to a potential recommendation for an annual COVID-19 vaccine. As of February 2, only about 22 percent of people aged 18 and older have received the updated vaccine, according to CDC data.
Effectiveness in Different Age Groups
The effectiveness of the 2023-24 updated COVID-19 vaccine against symptomatic infection was estimated in a recent study. The monovalent vaccine offered 54% protection from symptomatic illness, with effectiveness estimated at 57% in the 18-49 age group and 46% among those aged 50 and above. The US CDC recommends the vaccine for all individuals aged six months or older.
The study also provided early efficacy estimates of the updated vaccine against the JN 1 lineage, indicating that vaccine effectiveness is expected to wane over time since vaccination.
Protection in School-Age Children
Data from three US cohort studies suggest that the bivalent COVID vaccine offers 54% protection in school-age children against lab-confirmed COVID infection and symptomatic disease. A study of almost 200,000 newborns in Sweden and Norway further showed that maternal receipt of the COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy poses no risk to infants. Instead, it protects babies from serious complications.
Boosting Immunity by Alternating Arms
Research published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation found that alternating arms when receiving multiple shots of the COVID-19 vaccine can lead to an improved immune response. This strategy can be particularly significant for people who do not respond well to vaccines due to age or health conditions. The study showed that switching arms increased blood antibody levels by up to four times, resulting in enhanced immunity to the original SARS-CoV-2 strain and an even stronger immune response to the Omicron variant. This effect persisted beyond 13 months after boosting.