Sinopharm COVID-19 boosts weaker against Omicron – study

A Sinopharm logo is pictured during a government-organized visit to the COVID-19 vaccine production line by the Beijing Institute of Biological Products of the Sinopharm’s China National Biotec Group (CNBG), in Beijing, China on February 26, 2021. REUTERS / Tingshu Wang

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BEIJING, December 20 (Reuters) – A COVID-19 booster shot produced by China’s Sinopharm had “significantly lower” neutralizing activity against the Omicron variant, Chinese researchers said in an article, although they added the vaccine’s effect against Omicron remained unclear.

The study – conducted by researchers from Shanghai Jiao Tong University and a Shanghai-based laboratory specializing in infectious diseases of the respiratory tract – compared the activity of Sinopharm’s booster vaccine against an older coronavirus strain from Wuhan.

The neutralizing antibody activity of a Sinopharm BBIBP-CorV booster against Omicron showed a 20.1-fold reduction compared to the activity against a Wuhan strain, according to the newspaper published on Saturday.

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Sinopharm did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Sinopharm’s BBIBP-CorV vaccine and Sinovac Biotech’s (SVA.O) CoronaVac are the two most widely used vaccines in China and are the leading COVID-19 vaccines exported by the country. Sinopharm also has a second vaccine in use in China.

The study analyzed samples from 292 healthcare professionals who received a third dose, or booster shot, approximately eight to nine months after their second dose. After another four weeks, serum samples from 78.1% of participants retained neutralizing activity against Omicron, researchers said in an article that has not been peer-reviewed.

However, the study authors warned that the results were not equal to how well a Sinopharm booster could protect recipients from diseases caused by Omicron, as neutralization is only part of the human immune response.

Testing against the former Wuhan strain showed that about eight to nine months after the second BBIBP-CorV shot, the neutralizing activity could “hardly be detected”, while the booster raised the response significantly, according to the newspaper.

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Reporting by Roxanne Liu and Ryan Woo; edited by Jane Wardell

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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