The bivalent vaccine is said to target two strains of the coronavirus, including Omicron. On October 13, 2022, Pfizer claimed they had "positive early data" from clinical trials, suggesting that the bivalent booster is "anticipated to provide better protection" against the Omicron variant. However, a recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan and Columbia University found that the Omicron-specific booster failed to induce antibodies in participants who received Moderna's or Pfizer's bivalent vaccine. Apparently, the current boosters aren’t showing any benefits over the previous jabs. After three to five weeks of recipients receiving the booster, the vaccine was found to have “similar neutralizing antibody titers as those receiving a fourth monovalent mRNA vaccine.”
The researchers also added that the bivalent shot did "not induce superior neutralizing antibody responses in humans" compared to previous vaccines. “So far we don’t see the benefit” of the boosters over the previous ones, said senior author and virologist David Ho.
It's concerning that these studies are only coming out now when about 20 million Americans have already received the latest bivalent vaccine – does this mean millions of people received a shot (possibly) for no reason? According to Ho, the results could be explained by "imprinting," a phenomenon where the immune system remembers the previous versions of the virus that it encounters. "After it mutates, the response to a vaccine – even one targeting newer strains – may still be tilted toward fighting the original pathogen," as explained in Bloomberg. As of today, Pfizer has not commented on the study.
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