Covid booster vaccines are likely to offer good protection against the Omicron variant, experts behind a major new study say — in the first glimmer of hope since the emergence of the super-strain last week. 

According to the Government funded trial, T-cell immunity responses in the body after the third dose suggest that they continue to provide protection against the risk of death or hospitalisation by the new strain. 

It supports the UK’s decision not to use Moderna and Pfizer boosters. The most powerful mRNA Jabs that turbocharge antibody, T-cell responses.

It is believed that T-cells offer a greater level of protection and longer term than antibodies, which provide an immediate boost but then fade more quickly.   

Saul Faust was trial director and head of the NIHR Clinical Research Facility University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust. Professor Faust stated: “Even though it doesn’t fully understand its relationship to long term immunity, the T cells data is showing that it seems to have a wider range against all the variants. Which gives us hope, that a strain of virus may be able, at least for hospitalisation, if not prevention, of infection by the current vaccines.”

According to him, T cells do not respond only to spike proteins but also recognize a wider range of antigens.

When asked about Omicron specifically, he replied: “Our hope as scientists that protection against death and hospitalisation will continue to be intact.” 

Now, samples taken from the study were sent to the UK Health Security Agency to see if the Omicron variant of the virus can be neutralised with vaccines.

These promising results were made possible by the fact that Omicron, the ex-head of the UK’s Vaccines Taskforce, said Omicron would pass within a fortnight. He also predicted Omicron would be a storm in a cup’.

Clive Dix stood down in April and said that he didn’t consider any facts to indicate that he was a “super concern”. 

Uncertainty is increasing about Omicron, which fuels a rapid rise in Omicron-related cases in South Africa. South Africa first alerted the international community about this highly evolved virus on November 20, 2001.

The national number of cases rose to 11,535 this morning, a 37% increase in just one week and a third more than the 8,500 that were reported yesterday. Within a matter of days, the strain has become the most dominant in the country. After outpacing Delta by a remarkable pace, 75% now contain the sequenced sample. 

However, South African public health professionals and the World Health Organization insist that the cases are not severe and that the vaccines against this strain should be effective despite the lack of information. 

On Thursday, WHO officials stated at a press conference that it is spreading faster in Guateng province than Delta. However, Covid is only being vaccinated in 25% of South Africans. 

But despite this optimism, South African hospitals admissions seem to be rising despite being at a low level. 

Covid booster vaccines are likely to offer good protection against the Omicron variant, experts behind a Government-funded new study say. Graph shows: The number of T-cells per 10^6 peripheral blood mononuclear cells in people who have had two doses of the AstraZeneca after a third dose of the Pfizer (red bars) and Moderna (blue bars) vaccines

Experts behind a Government funded new study believe that booster vaccines for Covid are likely to provide good protection against Omicron variant. Graph showing: T-cells in 106 peripheral blood mononuclear cell counts of people who had received two doses AstraZeneca (red bars) or Moderna (blue bar) vaccines.

Boris Johnson received his coronavirus booster shot today as he said the nation is 'building ever higher the wall of protection' against the Omicron variant - but ministers are still unable to say when under-40s will be able to book

Boris Johnson got his coronavirus booster shot today. He said that the nation was ‘building ever high the wall of defense’ against Omicron variant. Ministers have not yet been able to determine when the Omicron variant will become available to the public.

Clive Dix, left, the former head of the Covid vaccines taskforce, said Omicron could pass in a fortnight and be just a 'storm in a teacup'

Professor Saul Faust, who led the new study, said six different vaccines were safe and effective boosters

Clive Dix (left), the ex-head of the Covid vaccinations taskforce said Omicron can pass in two weeks and that it is a “storm in a cup”. The new study was led by Professor Saul Faust who said that six vaccine boosters are safe and efficient.

There is growing uncertainty about the Omicron variant, which is fuelling a meteoric rise in cases in South Africa. Nationally, cases there soared to 11,535 today marking a 370 per cent rise in a week, and up a third on around 8,500 yesterday

The Omicron variant is causing a rapid rise in South African cases. There are increasing concerns about it. The national number of cases rose to 11,535 today, a 37% increase in one week and a third higher than the 8,500 that were yesterday.

According to Professor Saul Faust (who led the study), six vaccines have been shown safe and effective for booster shots in people who received previous doses AstraZeneca, Pfizer/BioNTech.

They include AstraZeneca and Pfizer. ‘All of the vaccines in our study do show a statistically significant boost… RNA (Pfizer and Moderna) very high, but very effective boosts from Novavax, Janssen and AstraZeneca as well,’ Professor Faust said.

Boris Johnson is given his Covid booster 

Boris Johnson received today his coronavirus booster shot. He said that the country is “building ever higher” the barrier against Omicron, but ministers have yet to determine when the Omicron variant will allow them to take charge.

The Prime Minister (57) stated that the most important thing to do in all situations is get your booster whenever you are eligible.

He stated that 18.6 million boosters had been given and said the dosages were the UK’s only hope for fighting this new strain.

He added that Omicron might not be capable of doing certain things, however it will not affect the overall effectiveness of the boosters.

After Science Minister George Freeman was involved in a car wreck TV interview, he couldn’t say when those aged 20 and 30 will get their booster.

Mr Johnson has pledged that all adults will be offered a third coronavirus vaccination by the end of January — but ministers have still not published a detailed rollout plan setting out when people under 40 can book.

Freeman repeatedly was asked why the Government has not published the plan, and when the younger adult will be allowed to speak out.

Although the minister couldn’t give an exact answer, he suggested that people ‘contact their doctor now’ even though health bosses told the younger patients to hold off until they are called by the NHS.

Professor Faust of University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust’s NIHR Clinical Research Facility said vaccines work well against known variants.

And he thinks T cell immunity — which was studied alongside antibodies in the research — could also play a significant role in fending off Omicron.

In order to destroy the virus, T cells and antibodies work together in the immune system.

Professor Faust stated that even though it is not clear how long-term immunity works, T cell data shows that the immune system seems to be stronger against variant strains. This gives hope that the vaccines can be used to treat a variant strain.

He said T cell response was not just focused on the spike protein but ‘are recognising a much broader range of antigens that might… be common to all of the variants.’ 

He answered specific questions about Omicron by saying: ‘Our hope, as scientists, is that protection from hospitalisation and deaths will remain intact. 

To determine if vaccines can neutralize the Omicron variant, samples taken from the CovBoost study funded by the UK government have been sent to UKHSA.

Jonathan Ball, professor of molecular virusology at Nottingham University, stated that he believes the existing jabs can continue to protect against the new strain.

He commented, “This is an amazing study. I’m glad to finally be able to see the data which was pivotal in deciding UK’s vaccine boost approach.”

“The data clearly show that boosters gave a boost to at least one part of your Covid immunity. Side effects, however, were generally mild.

“The data shows that Moderna and Pfizer provide the greatest overall boost regardless of how many doses you have taken.

“The fact the mRNA vaccination boosts caused a notable increase in antibodies and T cells, is fantastic news especially when we have been focused on the Omicron variant.

We don’t understand how an increase in immunity can translate into protection. This is especially true for serious illnesses. However, I remain confident that the vaccines we have will still provide the necessary protection. The Lancet published a new study that involved 278 adults aged over 30 who received a booster between 10 and 12 weeks following their first two-dose vaccine.

“We don’t yet know what this immunity increase means for protection against serious diseases, but we are confident that vaccines will provide us with the protection we require.”

There were thirteen different testing groups that tested the boosters, or acting as control, and controls received a meningitis vaccination.

The immune system was assessed 28 days later. Experts stated that further data on the results of the immunity tests three months after the boosters were administered would be available in the future.

In the early part of next year, more data will be released to determine if a longer time period between third and second doses increases response.

Study found that all vaccines were safe, except for fatigue, headache, and sore arms.

UK sees an increase in daily Covid cases by 14% over a week, to 53 945. But deaths are down 4%, with 141 victims. 

The number of Covid cases in Britain is on the rise with over 53,000 currently recorded, according to official Government data. This comes amid concerns about Omicron variant.

Data from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), shows that there have been 53,945 positive test results in the past 24 hours. This is 14.2% more than the 47,240 reported last Thursday, and it’s the highest since July 17.

This was the second consecutive day that cases increased in week-on-week. Only the second week in which cases exceeded the 50,000 mark has also been recorded.

The number of deaths from the virus declined to 141, a decrease of 4.1% compared with last week’s 147.

The number of hospitalisations dropped as well. 700 new admissions were recorded Sunday according to the most recent data. The figure was 6 percent lower than that of the 745 reported the previous week.

A separate surveillance study that was released today revealed that the UK saw an increase in symptomatic Covid cases by close to five per cent, or more than 80,000 per week.

According to test results taken from approximately 650,000 volunteers, the ZOE symptom tracking study found that an estimated 80,483 people were sick on any day of November 27.

This was a 4.9% increase over the prior week’s estimate. It means that one out of every 61 Britons has suffered from a symptomatic illness at any time. The study is being conducted by scientists at King’s College London.

But infections started to fall in the over-55s, in a clear sign of the effect of booster vaccine doses — with more than 19million people now having had a third dose according to Government data. 

Professor Faust commented, “It is really encouraging that a broad range of vaccines, using various technologies, show benefits for a third dose either AstraZeneca/BioNTech or Pfizer/BioNTech.

“This gives us confidence and flexibility to develop booster programs here in the UK as well as globally. Other factors such supply chain logistics and logistics are also important.

Analyzing antibody levels during the trial showed that people who initially received AstraZeneca two doses had booster responses between 1.8 and 32.3 times greater depending on what booster vaccine was given.

Two doses of Pfizer resulted in a range that was from 1.3 to 11.5x higher. However, they usually had a lower starting point.

Valneva’s seventh vaccine did not have any significant boost effect on people who received two doses of Pfizer.

In September, the government ended its agreement with the company and stated that it could not get approval from the UK’s medical regulator.

According to the authors, it is important that you interpret these ratios with care as they refer to immunity and not real-world protection from disease.

M. Dix stated that if Omicron was more infective than Delta, but causes less severe symptoms it would be sensible for Omicron’s dominance to continue to grow.

He stressed that the government had to remain cautious while more information was available.

He spoke to the newspaper i and said that he is ‘pretty relaxed’ and not worried about the new version.

I think that everything will soon calm down, so it shouldn’t be an enormous story in just a few more weeks.

“If you look at the facts we have so far, there are no signs that they will be a major concern.”

It appears that it could transmit very easily. Perhaps even faster than the Delta version. We aren’t yet seeing any serious diseases and death.

“The virus looks milder now, which is what we expect from viruses.

They mutate and become more transmittable. They aren’t looking for death, as they won’t transmit otherwise.

“This could be even a storm in the teacup.” We may find ourselves back at just counting the people who have Delta. In two weeks, there will be fewer people in the hospital. 

It was the encouraging results of the study that led the South African Government’s Covid vaccinations committee to declare that Omicron infected people had been treated with a ‘great deal’.

Sky News’ Barry Schoub said that the news was promising at this point, but the majority of breakthrough infections are mild.

“Our hospital surveillance shows a slight uptick, but nothing dramatic like we saw in previous waves.

“We have had the virus for less than a week, so we need to be careful.”

Boris now insists that you don’t cancel Christmas bookings because of muddled government messages. 

Boris Johnson now urges Britons not call off Christmas parties following his government’s confusing messaging that sparked an avalanche of cancelations and super-spreader events in Norway, which infected 60 out of 120 Omicron workers.

Sky News was shown the prime minister’s booster shot.

He said that everyone should follow the instructions we gave them. They shouldn’t cancel things. There is no reason to do that and it doesn’t support what we are saying. In all situations, the most important thing is to make sure you have your booster available when it’s ready.

Today, Mr Johnson’s minister of business plunged the Christmas party plans for millions more Britons into chaos by declaring that it was’sensible to limit them to four or five staff or to eliminate them entirely.

George Freeman (the Under Secretary for State for Science) also announced that he would cancel his department’s party and change it to Zoom drinks instead. This was due to concerns about the Omicron version. He admitted: “It won’t be the most enjoyable party in the whole world.”

Hours later, No.10 urged companies not to cancel Christmas parties. It also stated that anyone can kiss anybody they wish after another minister had advised against’snogging underneath the mistletoe’ during this holiday period.

Sky News’ latest intervention by Johnson will be viewed as an effort to make clear his government’s position after ministers’ confusing and muddled advice caused chaos for hospitality managers.

There is increasing uncertainty over the Omicron variant which has fueled a rapid rise in South African cases. There was a national rise of 35% in cases to 11 535, an increase of 37% over a week. This is compared with the 8.500 case yesterday.

Within a matter of weeks, the strain has become dominant in the country. After outpacing Delta by a furious pace, 75% now contain the predominant strain.

However, South African public health professionals and the World Health Organization insist that the cases are not severe and that the vaccines against this strain should be effective despite the lack of information.

Today’s WHO press conference saw officials say that it is more likely to infect people with the Covid variant than Delta. That is why it is rapidly spreading to Guateng province, where approximately 80 percent have natural immunity. However, Covid is only being vaccinated in 25% of South Africans.

But despite this optimism, South African hospitals admissions seem to be rising despite being at a low level.