How dangerous is the new Omicron variant of COVID? Can it spread faster than Delta? Does it cause a more severe illness? Do vaccines work against it? Researchers and ordinary people immediately demanded answers to these questions soon after the new Omicron variant had emerged.
According to CNN, the first experiment to directly analyze how vaccinated people can tackle the Omicron variant finds that the new strain of the SARS-CoV-2 virus can partly evade the COVID vaccine developed by Pfizer. However, enough protection is likely to occur in the case of those who have chosen to get vaccinated after being previously infected.
Boosters are likely to offer protection
Getting a vaccine booster for COVID remains a good idea, as the leader of the new study reveals, Mr. Alex Sigal. The study didn’t target people who received vaccine boosters, but Sigal is confident that those who are fully vaccinated with the booster will benefit from enough protection even against severe disease caused by the Omicron variant.
Samples from 12 people who had been vaccinated with Pfizer’s jab for COVID had been assessed. Thus, the researchers found that the Omicron variant can bypass some of the protection offered by the vaccine.
Sigal declared, as quoted by CNN:
There is a very large drop in neutralization of Omicron by BNT162b2 [Pfizer/BioNTech] immunity relative to ancestral virus,
Omicron escape from BNT162b2 neutralization is incomplete. Previous infection + vaccination still neutralizes.
The study’s lead author considers the new findings to be good news. He also said, as cited by the same source:
I thought this news was very positive. I expected worse.
The new study found a 41 times decrease in the level of neutralizing antibodies against the Omicron variant when it comes to some of the samples, by comparison with the ones for another strain of the coronavirus. For the moment, it’s not clear how these findings can express the reduction of the protection at a larger scale.
Sigal is even very confident that the more samples are tested, the aforementioned number will also change.