Research from M.U.S.T. Faculty of Medicine finds mRNA vaccine booster offers more protection against Omicron variants

A study led by Dr. Daniel Baptista-Hon (Assistant Professor, Faculty of Medicine, M.U.S.T.) and Professor Ligong Lu (Director, Zhuhai People’s Hospital and The First Affiliated Hospital of Faculty of Medicine M.U.S.T.) has found that people taking the BioNTech mRNA vaccine as the third booster dose produces more neutralizing antibodies against Omicron variants. This study is published in Signal Transduction and Targeted Therapy (Impact Factor: 35.13) and highlights the importance of vaccination in our response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Daniel Baptista-Hon (Faculty of Medicine of M.U.S.T.)

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to cause severe disruptions around the world and places global healthcare systems under enormous stress. Macao is currently in the grip of an unprecedented COVID-19 outbreak caused by the Omicron variant. Vaccination is one of the most important ways to reduce infection and death from COVID-19. Vaccination stimulates our bodies to produce antibodies against SARS-CoV-2. Some of these antibodies are “neutralizing” - they prevent SARS-CoV-2 from infecting our cells altogether and stop us from falling ill. 

The research led by Dr. Baptista-Hon and Prof. 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 (below). “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”, says Dr. Baptista-Hon.

This publication is part of the ongoing Macau Antibody Protection Study (MAPS), initiated since 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. and Guangzhou Medical University. MAPS is led by Chair Professor Kang Zhang and Dr. 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.

Chair Professor Zhang says, “MAPS (Macau Antibody Protection Study) 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.” M.U.S.T. Vice President and Chair Professor Paul Tam adds, “Vaccination is crucial to control the pandemic. I understand there are concerns about side effects but all the medical data show that the vaccines are safe.” Professor 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.”

The article in this press release can be accessed via:

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