An eye-popping new chart from a Canadian science advisory panel puts in a single image what the scientific community has said with urgency in recent days -- two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine are increasingly less effective at warding off infection with the omicron variant, even as they continue to prevent severe disease.
The Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table published new charts Sunday night showing a two-dose regimen was only about 50% effective in the most recent week in preventing infection, down from closer to 90% at the end of November.
But efficacy against hospitalization and ICU admission was basically unchanged over that time, well in excess of 90%. The independent advisory panel of scientists cautioned, however, that it would need another 10 days or so to say with confidence that the vaccines were, in fact, holding up against severe outcomes.
In the province, according to the group, the unvaccinated are now about twice as likely as the vaccinated to be infected with COVID -- but about 15 times more likely to be hospitalized and about 25 times more likely to be in the ICU.
It fits a growing body of data that says most two-dose regimens worldwide provide much less or very little protection against omicron infection, as opposed to the delta variant or other past strains of the virus.
That has prompted a renewed effort to promote booster shots, particularly given data that boosters dramatically increase antibodies to fight off infection.