The optimism on Omicron and why not to wait to get boosted

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WTVD) -- With work underway right now to develop an Omicron-specific booster shot for the public, the bottom line from public health experts is if you're eligible to get a COVID-19 booster shot -- don't wait.

Experts are still weighing the potential danger of the Omicron variant. But, what they know for sure is that when it comes to COVID protection, it's a lot about the antibodies.

"If you look at the peak (of antibody levels) following the third shot, the booster, it goes way up, " said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House chief medical advisor on COVID-19.

In a new interview with ABC 11, UNC epidemiologist Dr. David Wohl answered the question so many are asking: Since vaccine-makers are designing an Omicron-specific booster shot, why not wait to get boosted until it's released?

Wohl says that booster could be months away. And data show the current slate of vaccines successfully ramp up the body's immune response against many of the new variants. And they may give similar spill-over protection against Omicron.

"I think this is the perfect time to get a booster," Wohl said. "Don't wait. This is the time where I feel really fortunate to be boosted.

"Remember, these vaccines were made for a version of the virus that's no longer circulating. Yet the vaccines continue to protect us. And the higher the level of antibody, the more protection we get. Even from really bad variants like Delta, which is 100% of the variant that's circulating right now."

Cause for optimism on Omicron

More than 13.5 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been given so far in North Carolina. Eight billion worldwide. The good news amid the concerns over Omicron is our immune systems look much different than they did two years ago.

"There's so many more advantages and more tools in the toolbox than we had," Wohl said. "So we're just in a completely different ballgame than we were before."

Dr. Wohl says with so many unanswered questions about Omicron, his main focus remains on the Delta variant -- preventing a new surge during the holidays and colder weather.
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