Story at a glance
- COVID-19 boosters can strengthen the body’s immune defenses against the virus, significantly increasing antibody levels, a new study has found.
- The most potent booster, according to the study, was the Moderna shot, but researchers warned against comparing boosters because each trial participant began with different antibody levels.
- Side effects varied among participants, but most frequently included fatigue, headache, and arm pain.
COVID-19 booster shots can generate strong immune responses in those who have already been vaccinated, regardless of which shot they originally received, according to a new study from researchers in the UK.
The study, published this week in the scientific journal the Lancet, looked at the immune response of nearly 3,000 people in the UK who received either one of seven COVID-19 boosters or a control booster two to three months after getting their second shot of either the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccine.
While AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 jab is available in the UK, it has not been approved for use in the United States.
Recipients of the Pfizer booster after two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine had, after one month, antibody levels nearly 25 times higher than the control group, according to the study. Those fully vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine who were also boosted with Pfizer had antibody levels more than eight times higher than the control group.
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Moderna’s booster proved to be the most potent, according to the study, increasing antibody levels in those vaccinated with AstraZeneca by 32 times and those vaccinated with Pfizer by 11 times.
“These are remarkably effective immunological boosters, way above what is needed to prevent hospitalization and death,” Saul Faust, the trial lead and director of the Southampton NIHR clinical research facility, told The Guardian.
Faust and his colleagues warned against comparing the performance of each booster because study participants each began with different antibody levels.
Side effects varied among trial participants, with most experiencing fatigue, headache, or some arm pain. The study found no safety concerns.
The study also looked at boosters’ impact on T-cells, a critical part of the immune system. Most boosters, including Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca, raised T-cell levels, regardless of the vaccine
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