There was a bit of dispute over whether the bivalent booster released in 2022—which targets the original SARS-2 virus and the Omicron subvariants—was a necessary update to the earlier monovalent vaccines, or whether they’d be effective against the newest strains of the Covid-19 virus. However, two recent studies of the bivalent vaccine offer both a bit of clarity in that debate and some good news.
The first study, which was released in the New England Journal of Medicine found that the bivalent vaccine was significantly more effective than the monovalent variants at protecting against serious illness, hospitalization, and death from a Covid infection. Anna Durbin, director of the Center for Immunization Research at Johns Hopkins offered her assessment, “It certainly is a big difference between the two.”
These vaccines were created to protect against the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants of Omicron, which became the dominant strains in early 2022. But this study also demonstrates that the bivalent vaccine offers highly effective protection against the BQ.1 and BQ.2 subvariants, which began to dominate after this vaccine went into use.
The second study, conducted by the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control and released just this past Wednesday, examined whether this vaccine booster was effective against the most current XBB.1 and XBB.1.5 subvariants. The study concluded that the bivalent vaccine offers very similar protection against these newest as it does against the strains it was designed to target.
This is very welcome news and will hopefully provide motivation for folks to get their bivalent booster shots. This come as very encouraging news to Community Action, as we will offering a series of Covid Vaccine clinics over the next few months—on February 21, March 28, and April 25. These clinics will be free and open to the public, and—most importantly—will offer the bivalent booster for folks of all ages. We’ll have more information here on Working Together as they approach, so please stay tuned.