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Why is the booster jab necessary?

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Early evidence shows that the COVID-19 Omicron variant is spreading much faster than the Delta variant, and vaccine protection against the new strain is reduced.

When vaccine protection is reduced, it’s essential to top-up that protection with a booster. Both booster vaccines, (Pfizer and Moderna) increase the immune response substantially and show good effectiveness, although with some reduction compared to Delta.

The BBC has been speaking to Professor Jonathan Ball, a virologist from the University of Nottingham. In their report today, they describe vaccines working with our immune systems, a bit like we learn progressively through school, college and university.

The first dose, they say, is the primary school education that nails the fundamentals. The second and third doses are comparable to sending your immune system to secondary school and then university, to dramatically deepen its understanding. It’s not just repeating primary school over and over.  Our antibodies learn from this education with each dose. Every dose triggers another round of antibody evolution within the immune system. It seeks out better antibodies that attach themselves more firmly to the virus, in a process called affinity maturation.

“Your antibodies are a better fit as time goes on, they are getting fancier and more sophisticated,” says Professor Danny Altmann, an immunologist from Imperial College London. And the quantity of antibodies in our immune systems also increase with boosting

The impact is clear, the protection against getting any COVID-19 symptoms shoots up to around 75 per cent after the booster. Visit the BBC website to read the full report.