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Doctor Tony Fauci joined the White House COVID-19 Response Team’s teleconference on Friday morning to discuss the Omnicron variant. Fauci displayed a slide of the spike protein of the Delta variant and compared it to the spike protein of the Omnicron variant.

“The thing that is striking right off is the fact that those represent amino acid substitutions as a result of mutations,” Fauci said. “And notice how many more there are on the Omicron side.”

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Fauci said in a matter of “days to weeks,” we will know more about transmission, immune evasion and severity of disease related to the Omnicron variant.

“But, what can we do right now,” he asked rhetorically. “There are a number of things that we can do. I want to focus just for a minute or two on two of those — namely, getting vaccinated and getting boosted.”

Fauci said unvaccinated people in America had almost a six percent increased risk of getting infected and getting COVID compared to fully vaccinated Americans. They also had what Fauci called an 11-fold risk of being hospitalized and a 14 increase of dying when compared with fully vaccinated individuals. All of those numbers were regarding the Delta variant.

“However, in vitro studies now indicate that booster shots markedly increased the antibody titers against a wide range of variants,” he said.

Fauci said those who were vaccinated were vaccinated against the Wuhan strain of the virus. According to Fauci, the level of antibody titer prior to the third shot (the booster) was 55 in younger individuals.

“Twenty-eight days after the boost — in this case, a third shot of the mRNA-1273 — it goes way up to 872 — much higher than the actual peak following the second dose,” Fauci said. “And this is reflected also in individuals greater than 65, as shown on the right-hand part of the slide.”

Fauci said the same is also true for the Pfizer BioNTech injections. One month after the second dose, there is 241 as the 50 percent serum neutralization. One month after the booster, it goes up to 1,321. The elderly go from 123 to 1,495.

“One of the things we now know, and it’s becoming increasingly apparent, that when you get a high level of antibody — and as shown in this slide in an animal model done by Doctors Seder and Corbett here at the NIH — when you look at the third dose, you increase the levels of neutralizing antibodies against all the variants,” Fauci said. “And this also has an increase in levels of memory B cells and T cells, which strongly suggest that boosters will give you cross-protection against a number of variants.”

Fauci said that while it hasn’t been proven yet, “there’s every reason to believe” if someone gets vaccinated and boosted they’ll have “some degree” of cross-protection, very likely against severe disease, even against the Omicron variant.

“Get vaccinated and get boosted,” Fauci said.

Author: Jacob Hall

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