The same day retiring National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease Director Anthony Fauci urged Americans to get the new Omicron-targeting COVID-19 boosters, a sister agency accidentally pulled the rug out from under him.
The so-called bivalents, composed of the outdated BA.4/5 subvariants and Wuhan strain, have less than 50% absolute vaccine effectiveness (aVE) against symptomatic infection for every vaccinated adult age group compared to the unvaccinated, according to the CDC's Nov. 22 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. It's particularly bad for those 65 and up: just 22% aVE.
The figures for relative vaccine effectiveness (rVE), which compares the vaccinated receiving a bivalent booster to not receiving one, show that protection is generally strongest for those who stopped at the primary series — two mRNA doses, no boosters — and who waited the longest between doses.
The data reviewed by the CDC come from the Increasing Community Access to Testing nationwide program, covering about 360,000 nucleic acid amplification tests from nearly 10,000 retail pharmacies from Sept. 14-Nov. 11.