A report from South Africa provided a first-hand look at how vaccinated people work against the rapidly spreading Omigran variant of the corona virus.
Laboratory tests have found that the power of the Omicron Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is blunt, but indicated that recipients of the booster shot will be better protected.
In a study published online on Tuesday, antibodies produced by vaccinated people were found to be much less effective at keeping the Omigran variant from infecting cells than other forms of the corona virus.
Scientists are somewhat concerned about the results, but there is no reason to panic. Data show that vaccinated people may be exposed to the fast-spreading Omigran infection in South Africa. Dozens of countries All over the world.
But vaccines trigger a broader immune response, which involves more than just antibodies. Therefore, these tests provide an incomplete picture of how well the vaccine protects against hospitalization or death caused by omigran.
Alex Sigel, a virologist at the Africa Health Research Institute in Durban, South Africa, said in an interview, “When I think there will be more infections, I do not know which systems will collapse.” My guess is that it will be under control. “
Dr. Sikal and his colleagues have been developing the virus at astounding speeds for the past two weeks, testing for antibodies against it. “If I didn’t die of the virus, I would die of exhaustion,” he said.
At first, Dr. Sigal feared that vaccines would not provide any protection. The Omicron variant may have developed a new way of entering cells, making antibodies ineffective from vaccines. “Then all our efforts will be in vain,” he said.
Fortunately, it proved otherwise.
Dr. Sikal and his colleagues used antibodies from six people who received the Pfizer vaccine without Covit-19. They also analyzed antibodies from six infected individuals before receiving the Pfizer vaccine.
The researchers found that the antibodies from all the volunteers worked worse against Omigran than they did against the previous version of the corona virus. Overall, the potency of their antibodies against Omigran was dramatically lower, up to forty percent of the levels found when tested with an earlier version of the virus. Low levels of antibodies, Omigron does not protect against infections.
Theodore Hotzio Anno, a virologist at Rockefeller University who is not involved in the research, said the number is not surprising. “This is more or less what we expected,” he said.
The results may help explain some of the top super-spreading phenomena caused by Omigran. At an office Christmas party in Norway, the virus The infection seems to have occurred At least half of the 120 participants who were vaccinated.
Dr. Sickle Announced Results on Twitter on Tuesday afternoon.
His team found a stark difference between the two volunteers. Antibodies from the six unvaccinated individuals were very weak against Omigran. But of the volunteers who were Covit-19 before being vaccinated, five out of six gave even more powerful responses.
One reason for the difference is that people who are vaccinated after infection develop higher levels of antibodies than those who are not infected.
Until the researchers test the antibodies directly from those who received them, the tests could not say much about how well the boosters protect against Omigran, Dr. Siegel said. But he suspected that increased levels of antibodies would provide better protection. “The more you have, the better you will be,” he said.
Christian Anderson, an epidemiologist at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, who is not involved in the new study, agreed that booster shots can help prevent the new variant.
“I expect the boosters to restore a better level of security,” he said. “Furthermore, early clinical data from South Africa suggest that immunity – vaccines or previous infections – may be more effective in preventing severe forms of Govt-19.”
Dr. HotzioAnno is not sure about the boosters. She and her colleagues are conducting tests on antibodies from boosters to see if they produce the same strong protection found in those who have been vaccinated after infection. “I want to say yes, but we have to wait,” he said.
Pfizer and Moderna say they are testing their vaccines against Omicron and will be able to produce vaccines in about three months, especially for variants.
Jesse Bloom, a virologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, said the study reinforced the need to accelerate the development of omigron-specific shots. Despite some uncertainty about how widespread the variant will be, the best way to restore protection against Omicron is to provide people with a vaccine that contains Omicron’s genetic information.
“Given the huge drop in the neutralization of antibody titers found here with Omicron, it would be worthwhile in my view to move forward as soon as possible in the preparation of Omicron-specific vaccines,” he said. It’s likely to spread widely. “
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