SciCheck Digest: Several studies have shown that additional COVID-19 shots provide extra protection against the coronavirus. However, a preliminary finding from a study conducted by the Cleveland Clinic has been misinterpreted on social media, falsely suggesting that receiving more doses increases the risk of infection. The vaccines authorized and approved for use are effective at preventing severe COVID-19 and symptomatic illness caused by earlier variants of the coronavirus. For instance, the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine had an efficacy of 91% against symptomatic illness in its phase 3 trial, the Moderna vaccine showed a final efficacy of 93%, and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine showed an efficacy of 66% against moderate to severe COVID-19. The Novavax vaccine demonstrated a 90.4% efficacy in preventing symptomatic COVID-19. Real-world studies have confirmed the effectiveness of these vaccines against the delta variant. However, the vaccines have been less effective against the omicron variant in preventing infection or mild disease. Nonetheless, they still provide protection against hospitalization or death, especially with the administration of booster doses. Boosters are recommended to increase and prolong protection against severe disease, as well as provide temporary protection against milder illness and infection. A recent study conducted by the Cleveland Clinic aimed to assess the effectiveness of the omicron booster in preventing infection. The researchers observed that individuals who had received more vaccine doses prior to the availability of the booster had a higher rate of testing positive in the following months. However, the study did not find a causal relationship between the number of vaccine doses and infection risk. It is important to note that the study is observational and other factors could explain the association. Experts doubted that prior vaccines increase infection risk, emphasizing the need for further study. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that there is no clear evidence that repeated vaccination with COVID-19 vaccines increases susceptibility to infection. The finding in the Cleveland Clinic study prompts further examination of the relationship between past vaccine doses and infection risk. It is difficult to assess causality in observational studies, as they can only reveal associations and not definitive cause-and-effect relationships. Differences between groups that received vaccines and those who did not could contribute to variations in infection risk. Factors such as behavioral differences and varying testing patterns can affect the interpretation of study results. The study did not account for at-home tests, and the researchers acknowledge the possibility of missed infections. Thus, while the study provides insight, further research is needed to fully understand the relationship between vaccine doses and infection risk.
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Aisha Patel is a dedicated Indian correspondent with a deep understanding of the nation’s diverse affairs. With a background in Indian culture, politics, and current events, she provides in-depth analysis and timely reporting on domestic issues within India.