UPDATE 1-UK PM Johnson says boosters should give higher protection from Omicron

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LONDON, Nov 30 (Reuters) - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday said that it was likely booster COVID-19 vaccinations would increase protection against severe disease from the new Omicron variant even if effectiveness against infection was reduced.

"The answer is everywhere and always to get the booster because we think it's overwhelmingly likely that the booster (and) getting vaccinated will give you more protection," he told broadcasters.

Asked about Moderna Chief Executive Stephane Bancel's comments that there was likely to be a "material drop" in vaccine effectiveness with Omicron, Johnson said Bancel was "probably right" but stressed that it did not mean that vaccines would be rendered totally ineffective.

"He's not necessarily saying that this will mean that the vaccines are ineffective against serious illness or death. But they may be less effective in preventing transmission," he said.

"We see some evidence from South Africa that... Omicron is transmitted between people who have been vaccinated, but it's not clear to what extent this means that you're going to get a severe case of Omicron." (Reporting by Alistair Smout; editing by James Davey)

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