Thursday, October 6, 2022

The Bivalent Booster Shot

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Health, Medicine

Ed Hessler 

Dr. Alex Lickerman has a new post, #16, in his informative series on the coronavirus discussing a question that is quite common. "Should you get a bivalent booster shot? " 

Bivalent refers to the protection against the original COVID-19 strain and the newer Omnicron variant. See the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) variant classifications and definitions.

Dr. Lickerman's short answer: "It depends, again, on how likely you are to have a bad outcome if you contract COVID-19 as well as your specific goals."

The post is divided into two parts. The first is about the evidence - how the conclusions were reached, e.g., there are no data on human subjects but from that all purpose surrogate: mice. (my underline)

Dr. Lickerman always includes the statement, "if you're less interested in how we  got to our conclusions than you are in the conclusions themselves, feel free to skip to the CONCLUSION at the end" which I've chosen to do here but please read the entire essay.

In the second part is Dr. Lickerman's conclusion. "Should you get the bivalent booster? In the absence of human trial data, we might think about this question as follows: We can be reasonably certain that the bivalent booster will produce a level of neutralizing antibodies that diminishes the risk of infection from COVID. We don’t know how long that protection will last, but a fair guess would be from 3 to 6 months. If there is some reason you feel the need to reduce your risk over the next 3 to 6 months, say, for travel, getting the bivalent booster would seem reasonable. On the other hand, if in addition to being vaccinated, you’ve had COVID recently (meaning you’ve been infected with an Omicron variant), likely the same level of protection accrues, obviating the need for the bivalent booster. If your main concern is dying from COVID and you’ve already received the primary series and one or two boosters, your risk is so low that getting another shot would seem superfluous. If you are at high risk for dying from COVID, while there is no data to suggest the bivalent booster might further reduce your risk beyond levels afforded by the primary series and one or two boosters, there is also likely little risk of getting it. In the absence of data to guide us, this would then be a personal decision."

And if you want to know more about Dr. Lickerman and his Chicago clinic, the banner at the top of his post includes a variety of information.

I got the bivalent booster before reading Dr. Lickerman's comments and still would after reading it although I'm more informed. I knew when I got the boost that it might not help me much but also that it couldn't hurt me. I did have a very vigorous reaction, though, the most of the entire series --sorer arm and aching shoulders, pelvis, and knees. It made me think my body was at work making antibodies! I also thought I had an elevated temperature.  At the same time I got a flu injection and that seemed to be about the usual upper arm soreness. It was considerably less sore compared with the boosted arm.

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