The booster vaccination campaign has been galloping: more than half of the UK population have now rolled up their sleeves and got a third shot. The decision to get triple vaccinated is informed by growing evidence that shows the Omicron variant avoids some of the antibodies induced by two vaccines. However, breakthrough infections of the variant are still being observed in the fully vaccinated.
Crucially, Omicron is resulting in a milder form of the disease, but signs of the variant are still showing up in the vaccinated population.
Sore throat is the predominant symptom showing up in mild breakthrough infections, Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Doctor Allison Arwady said during a Facebook Live Tuesday.
“Especially in people who we’re seeing these more mild breakthrough infections, we are definitely seeing sore throat be a predictor in that group,” Doctor Arwady said.
In light of the trend, the doc urged people who have any flu- or cold-like symptoms to assume they have Covid “until proven otherwise.”
This advice is consistent with data generated by ZOE Covid study, which has been tracking the movements of COVID-19 and its variants via users to its app.
ZOE conducted an initial analysis of symptom data from positive cases in London, which was the epicentre of Omicron at the time.
To compare Delta and Omicron, London data was selected from a week where Delta was dominant.
This initial analysis found no clear differences in the early symptoms (three days after test) between Delta and Omicron.
The analysis identified a number of cold-like symptoms associated with Omicron.
The top five symptoms reported in the ZOE app were:
- Runny nose
- Fatigue (either mild or severe)
- Sore throat.
The discovery prompted Professor Tim Spector, lead scientist on the ZOE COVID Study app, to issue important public health advice.
The professor said at the time: “To help us slow the spread, my advice continues to be; avoid gathering indoors, and, if you are meeting up with people, check everyone is free of cold symptoms, test yourself just before and get fully vaccinated.”
The good news is, the booster shots appear to be keeping the most vulnerable out of hospital so far.
That’s the key takeaway from the latest data released from the UK Health Security Agency ((UKHSA).
According to the UKHSA, booster shots are providing high levels of protection against hospitalisation and severe disease from the omicron Covid variant among older people.
Figures show that around three months after the third shot, protection against hospitalisation among those 65 and older remains at about 90 percent.
With just two doses, protection against severe disease drops to about 70 percent after three months and to 50 percent after six months, the agency said Friday.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization – the panel of experts advising the Government – has said the evidence shows there’s no immediate need to introduce a second booster shot, or fourth dose, to the most vulnerable.
You can get a booster dose if you had a second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at least three months ago.
You are eligible if you are:
- You are aged 18 or over
- You are aged 16 or over with a health condition that puts you at high risk of getting seriously ill from COVID-19
- You are a frontline health or social care worker
- You live or work in a care home
- You are aged 16 or over and are a main carer for someone at high risk from COVID-19
- You are aged 16 or over and live with someone who has a weakened immune system (such as someone who has HIV, has had a transplant or is having certain treatments for cancer, lupus or rheumatoid arthritis).