New COVID-19 Boosters Just 30 Percent Effective, Study Finds


(David Ryder/Getty Images)

The Epoch Times

By Zachary Stieber

The new COVID-19 vaccine boosters barely provide any protection against infection, according to a new study.

The boosters, from Pfizer and Moderna, were just 30 percent effective in preventing infection, researchers with the Cleveland Clinic found.

The effectiveness falls below the 50 percent effectiveness required by the World Health Organization and originally recommended by the FDA. U.S. regulators have since stopped requiring any clinical efficacy at all.

The researchers analyzed data from clinic employees since Sept. 12, shortly after the boosters were authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the prevention of COVID-19. Out of the nearly 52,000 workers, about 10,800 received one of the bivalents. Researchers pinpointed the time to COVID-19, or time to a positive test, and compared the boosted population to those who were vaccinated but did not receive a bivalent as well as the unvaccinated.

Researchers ultimately estimated the effectiveness at 30 percent, even though the BA.4/BA.5 subvariants were in circulation during the study period.

The new boosters contain components of the original Wuhan virus strain and a sublineage of the BA.4/BA.5 subvariants.

Laboratory testing indicates the boosters perform worse against newer variants, including the dominant BQ.1 and BQ1.1 strains.

The new paper was published as a preprint by the medRxiv server (pdf).

Researchers said the paper found “an overall modest protective effect of the bivalent vaccine booster against COVID-19, among working-aged adults.”

Dr. Paul Elias Alexander disagreed, saying the results highlighted “a clear mismatch” between the antibodies the vaccines produce and the circulating variants.

“It is basic knowledge that if you mass vaccinate in the midst of a pandemic across all age-groups with circulating virus (infectious pressure) as is the situation, using a vaccine that does not sterilize/neutralize the virus (stop infection, replication, or transmission as these do not), then natural selection pressure will play a role, and the virus will select for more infectious variants and the infections will not stop,” Alexander, an evidence-based medicine specialist and consultant to the Wellness Company and the Unity Project, told The Epoch Times via email.

“We are seeing very alarming trends whereby the vaccinated are getting infected and hospitalized post gene therapy injection vaccine (research shows that the COVID gene injection is making the virus more infectious to the vaccinee), and there is viral immune escape, antibody-dependent enhancement of infections and disease, and original antigenic sin. The bivalent booster has failed and the CDC Director’s infection post her 5th shot (booster) told us this,” he added.

The corresponding author of the paper did not respond to a request for comment.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), tested positive for COVID-19 in mid-October and again about 10 days later despite receiving multiple shots, including a new booster.

Other Estimates

The FDA on Aug. 31 granted emergency use authorization to both Pfizer and Moderna for the new boosters, despite the fact there was no clinical data for either one.

“It is matched to what is currently circulating, and the hope here is that by increasing the amount of antibodies that we have to that particular variant we will restore the kind of protection that we had when we first saw these vaccines launched in the late part of 2020, early part of 2021, when we had very good protection against symptomatic disease,” Dr. Peter Marks, a top FDA official, told reporters at the time.

Months later, neither Pfizer nor Moderna have produced clinical trial data.

According to observational data from the CDC, the boosters provided suboptimal protection against symptomatic infection.

Among people aged 18 to 49 who had received two doses of an old vaccine, for instance, the protection was just 41 percent. For people aged 50 to 64 after two doses, it was 50 percent. For older people after two doses, it was 32 percent.

After 3 doses, the protection ranged from 19 to 43 percent, depending on age. After four doses, it was 23 to 28 percent.

The CDC did measure relative effectiveness, or protection on top of the old vaccine, as high as 56 percent but as low as 28 percent.

Two other CDC studies estimated protection against hospitalization. They returned estimates of 84 percent for people aged 65 or above, and 57 percent for adults.

The studies drew criticism for excluding people who tested positive for influenza and people who received a Johnson & Johnson vaccine. They were also published in the CDC’s quasi-journal, which only publishes papers after they’re shaped to align with CDC messaging. The CDC, like the FDA, has been aggressively promoting the COVID-19 vaccines throughout the pandemic.

“In this study, without any clear rationale, control patients who tested negative for COVID but tested positive for influenza were excluded. It is hard to interpret this as anything but cherry picking & it ruins the whole idea of a test neg[ative] design,” Dr. Tracy Hoeg, an epidemiologist, wrote on Twitter.

The authors of both papers said the results support vaccination.

“This study clearly shows the benefit conveyed by a bivalent booster vaccine—lowering the risk that you will have to go to the [emergency department] or be hospitalized due to COVID,” Dr. Shaun Grannis, one of the authors, said in a statement.