Two jabs offer little protection against Omicron - but boosters up to 75% effective

A member of the public receives a dose of the Pfizer BioNtech vaccine at a vaccination centre (Getty Images)
A member of the public receives a dose of the Pfizer BioNtech vaccine at a vaccination centre (Getty Images)

A Covid booster jab sees the risk of symptomatic infection with the Omicron variant “significantly reduced”, according to health officials.

Early analysis by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) found that a third dose was found to give around 70 to 75% protection against symptomatic infection.

The findings have led to calls for all of those eligible to make sure they get their booster jab.

The AstraZeneca and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines were found to provide “much lower” levels of protection against symptomatic infection with Omicron compared to Delta.

However, the data - which looked at 581 people with confirmed Omicron - also suggested effectiveness seemed to “increase considerably” in the early period after a booster dose.


A ‘deeply concerning situation’

Cabinet minister Michael Gove said it was a “deeply concerning situation” after attending a Cobra meeting on Friday (10 December) to discuss the latest data.

He said that the Omicron variant was doubling every two or three days in England “and possibly even faster in Scotland”.

Mr Gove warned that evidence suggests Omicron is “more likely” than past Covid variants to “potentially” lead to hospital admissions among the fully vaccinated.

The Guardian has also reported that Health Secretary Sajid Javid had been given a presentation from UKHSA which warned that even if Omicron leads to less serious disease than Delta, it still risks overwhelming the NHS with 5,000 people admitted to hospital a day.

The leaked report called for “stringent action” on or before December 18 if the variant’s doubling time stays at 2.5 days.


However, Number 10 maintained that there were “no plans” to go further with measures in England - despite reports that proposals are being drawn up for a Plan C.

In Scotland, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has warned of the possibility of a “tsunami of infections” from the new variant.

She refused to rule out more restrictions in the country.

How many Covid and Omicron cases are there in the UK?

Daily Covid case numbers have reached their highest level since January.

There were, as of 9am on Friday, a further 58,194 lab-confirmed Covid-19 cases in the UK.


The last time a higher daily figure was reported was on January 9, when 59,937 cases were recorded.

An additional 448 confirmed cases of the Omicron variant have been reported across the UK, bringing the total number to 1,265.

The UKHSA has predicted that, if current trends continue, the UK will exceed one million infections by the end of the month.

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