Infection even after having booster doses raises questions on Omicron's infectious abilitytext_fields
Singaporean officials have revealed that two new cases of the Omicron variant have emerged in the country, with both patients having taken a booster dose of the Pfizer vaccine. The finding raises questions about the ability of Omicron to cause 'breakthrough infections' in vaccinated people even as scientists struggle to decode the implications of its mutations.
One patient is a 24-year-old airport worker and the other is a passenger who recently returned from Germany according to reports. Both had taken booster doses of the vaccine. The airport worker was asymptomatic when testing positive during a routine screening of frontline workers, while the passenger from Germany initially tested negative on landing in Singapore but developed mild symptoms a few days later.
"Given its high transmissibility and spread to many parts of the world, we should expect to find more omicron cases at our borders and also within our community," Singapore's health ministry said in a statement.
Pfizer BioNTech has already announced the results of preliminary research into the highly-mutated Omicron variant which has led the company to conclude that booster shots may be necessary to offset a new wave of infections.
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced that booster doses will be extended to the population aged 16-17 after data showed that three doses may be more effective in stopping the vaccine than two doses. South African regulators have also approved a third dose to combat rising waves of infections in the country mere weeks after it identified the new variant within its borders.
Singapore has seen a sharp drop in community cases over the past month, along with a significant easing in hospital loads. the city-state has one of the world's best vaccination rates, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. 87% of the total population is fully vaccinated, while 96% of those eligible are fully inoculated, most with Pfizer or Moderna. Some 29% have also received booster jabs.