UVA Health: Omicron-specific booster could be here in the fall

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Published: Jul. 12, 2022 at 5:40 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - An Omicron-specific vaccine for could be here as early as this fall. This vaccine could help prevent another surge in COVID-19 cases when the weather starts to get cooler.

This booster could protect people not only from getting hospitalized, but from being infected in the first place.

“Omicron developed because it could avoid the vaccines,” Doctor Bill Petri with UVA Health said Monday, July 11.

Dr. Petri says almost all of the COVID-19 cases in the Charlottesville area and the U.S. are from the BA.5 sub-variant.

“It behooves all of us to exercise common sense with this, because even if you had the original Omicron infection in one of the waves from last Christmas or New Years you’re probably not immune to getting infected with this new BA.5 sub-variant,” said Dr. Petri. “It does a better job of evading even immunity from the original Omicron.”

That sort of reinfection is what doctors are trying to prevent.

“The CDC has just made that recommendation to the vaccine manufacturers a week ago, so things are so things are moving quickly on that,” said Dr. Petri.

He says doctors believe Omicron will still be the dominant variant in the fall, when this vaccine could be released.

“The best guess right now is that Omicron is with us for a while, because we’re not seeing new things showing up. We’re distributing variations on a theme, so we’re saying, ‘Yeah, we’ve gone from BA.1 to now BA.5,’ but they’re all on the Omicron backbone,” Dr. Petri said.

Even if it is not the dominant variant in the next few months, Dr. Petri says this booster would still be helpful because it will improve overall immunity.

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