Omicron can significantly escape immune protection

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The Omicron variant of the coronavirus can significantly escape the immune protection offered by either vaccines, previous disease, or monoclonal antibodies, five new studies published in the journal Nature confirm.

Laboratory (non-clinical) research, some of which has been previously published, shows that those who have had COVID-19 in the past and those who have been fully vaccinated – even those who have received a third dose – are at risk of being infected with Omicron.

At the same time, the new variant appears to be completely or largely resistant to all monoclonal antibodies used clinically today. The most important of the five studies, led by David Ho, a professor of medicine at Columbia University in New York, conducted in collaboration with scientists at the University of Hong Kong, examined whether antibodies from 54 fully inoculated Pfizer / BioNTea AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson can neutralize Omicron in the lab.

The 15 had also received a booster dose of mRNA vaccine, while both had also been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the past. Antibodies from all vaccines were found to have significantly reduced efficacy in neutralizing Omicron compared to the other variants. Antibodies to COVID-19 patients are even less effective at killing Omicron, which puts them at risk for re-infection.

Those who received a third dose of mRNA vaccine (Pfizer / BioNTech or Moderna) are better protected than those who have taken two doses, but in their own case the antibodies after the booster dose have a reduced neutralizing ability against Omicron.

As Dr. Ho puts it, “even a third dose may not adequately protect against Omicron infection, but of course one should do so, as it may increase immunity.”

With regard to monoclonal antibodies, which can prevent coronavirus patients from becoming seriously ill, the study in 19 of them found that everything that is already in use, but also most of those that are in development, is much less effective against Omicron or do not “work” at all.

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