Macao university research finds mRNA vaccine booster offers more protection against Omicron variants

July 25, 2022 - 3 minutes
Daniel Baptista-Hon, Faculty of Medicine at M.U.S.T. in Macao. Photo/M.U.S.T.

A study in Macao has found people taking the BioNTech mRNA vaccine as the third booster dose produce more neutralizing antibodies against Omicron variants. 

The study, led by Daniel Baptista-Hon, assistant professor at the Faculty of Medicine at the Macau University of Science and Technology (M.U.S.T.), and Ligong Lu, director of Zhuhai People’s Hospital, was published in Signal Transduction and Targeted Therapy.

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to cause severe disruptions around the world and continues to put global healthcare systems under enormous stress. Macao is currently in the grip of an unprecedented COVID-19 outbreak caused by the Omicron variant. 

The research led by Baptista-Hon and Lu found that in people who have received two doses of the inactivated virus vaccine, those who receive the BioNTech mRNA vaccine as a booster produce more neutralizing antibodies effective against the Omicron BA.2 variant. 

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Photo/M.U.S.T.

“The results of our study show that the choice of the booster shot is very important, and the data in our study is in line with the recommendations of the Health Bureau of the Macao SAR Government that people should consider the mRNA vaccine as their booster dose,” Baptista-Hon said.

Recruiting volunteers

The publication is part of the ongoing Macau Antibody Protection Study (MAPS), initiated in February 2022. It is a multidisciplinary collaboration between the Faculty of Medicine and University Hospital of M.U.S.T., Zhuhai People’s Hospital and First Affiliated Hospital of Faculty of Medicine M.U.S.T., Guangzhou Medical University, and Fosun Pharmaceuticals. 

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MAPS is led by Chair Professor Kang Zhang and Baptista-Hon, with the overall aim of evaluating the effectiveness of vaccine protection in Macao. MAPS is recruiting participants from the Macao population who have taken one, two or three of the currently available vaccines in Macao or mainland China. The recruitment is currently paused to comply with the Macao SAR Government’s anti-epidemic measures.

Zhang said, “MAPS is a very important study to keep track of the level of protection against COVID-19 in Macao, which can also help guide vaccination strategies. We are always looking for new participants so if anyone is interested they can get in touch with us.” 

Manson Fok, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine says, “As the first and only medical school in Macao, this important piece of research shows our commitment and determination to make a positive difference to Macao healthcare, and our continued search for excellence.”

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