British pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca says that a booster dose of its Covid-19 vaccine Vaxzevria "significantly" lifts antibody levels against the Omicron strain. This comes as the strain spreads "at lightning speed" across France, where its is expected to become the dominant variant by the New Year.
In a statement, AstraZeneca said lab tests showed the its third dose booster "neutralised the Omicron variant to levels that were broadly similar to those observed ... after the second dose against the Delta variant".
Levels of neutralising antibodies were also higher with the booster jab than with individuals who had previously been infected and recovered naturally from Covid-19.
The study was conducted by investigators from the University of Oxford, which is the academic institution which helped AstraZeneca develop the vaccine last year.
Also on Wednesday, the World Health Organization warned that rich countries cannot use boosters to escape the Covid crisis, as they divert valuable jabs away from poorer nations – and encourage the virus to spread and mutate.
Speaking at the end of a ministerial council yesterday, French governement spokesman Gabriel Attal said Omicron was spreading "at a very fast pace", warning "the whom the epidemic could take off again with a bang."
It is already dominant in several regions of France, particularly Paris and the surrounding Ile-de-France department.
Attal added there would however be a "regular re-evaluation" of the on-going health situation – notably during the Council of Ministers scheduled for next Monday – which will look to adopt the introduction of a vaccine pass.
The French government has called for "prudence" during the family gatherings over Christmas, amid warnings that the number of contaminations in France should exceed 100,000 per day by the beginnging of January.