The new Omicron strain is still not accurate andreliable information. The incoming data varies to the opposite. You can hear from various sources that the virus is indeed more contagious, but vaccines are as effective against it as against its predecessors. At the same time, the information coming from South Africa is not so encouraging. One study says that those who have previously suffered from COVID-19 have a high risk of contracting a new strain. This suggests that the virus manages to escape the protection of the immune system, at least in part. Hence, we can conclude that vaccines are not the way to fully fulfill their function of protecting the body from infection. However, the study does not address the severity of the illness. It is possible that COVID-19 after re-infection is mild. In this case, and vaccines can help to avoid a severe form of the course of the disease, as is the case with all previous strains.
How much the acquired immunity protects against Dalt and Beta strains
South Africa has already seen three massive wavesCOVID-19. The first was caused by the original strain SARS-CoV-2, the second - by the beta variant, which did not go far beyond the region, and then completely disappeared, the third wave was caused by the most dangerous strain Delta. Studies have shown that previous waves provided, albeit imperfect, but still significant immunity protection against strains Beta and Delta. Therefore, many hoped that the immunity of the population created in South Africa would help contain the further spread of SARS-CoV-2. But the results of the study suggest the opposite - dozens of Omicron mutations help the virus escape immunity.
In one study, experts examined the frequency ofre-infections in January, that is, after the appearance of the beta strain. Using records of SARS-CoV-2 test results in South Africa, they analyzed the number of re-infections 90 days after a person had COVID-19.
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It should be noted that the Beta strain in laboratoryconditions evaded the immune response received as a result of a previous illness. But the researchers wanted to understand the situation in real life. As a result, they found that the previously transferred COVID-19 reduced the risk of infection with both the Beta and Delta strains. Moreover, the degree of protection against both viruses was approximately the same.
Omicron eludes the immune response
Scientists continued to update their database, andnoticed one oddity in October - the overall infection rate was quite low. Perhaps this was due to the increase in the number of vaccinations. However, the risk of re-infection
at some point it began to increase sharply.
“At first I thought that something was wrong with the dataor software. But then, about two weeks ago, we began to notice other signals that SARS-CoV-2 is gaining strength again, ”says Juliet Pulliam, epidemiologist and lead author of the study.
Having discovered such drastic changes in statistics,scientists immediately suspected the emergence of a new strain, so they were not surprised when Omicron was discovered. The latest study, which was published as a preprint, says the authors analyzed 35,670 recontamination from nearly 3 million positive tests taken late last week.
The results show that the previously transferredthe infection protects against the Omicron strain about twice as bad as against the Delta strain. According to the researchers, it is too early to talk about exact data. However, the study provides a fairly good understanding that reinfection cases are characteristic of the Omicron variant.
Now the attention of the whole world is riveted on hospitalsSouth Africa, which are beginning to fill up with COVID-19 patients again. This is where researchers hope to find clues as to whether vaccination or previous infection reduces the severity of a new disease. As for the effectiveness of vaccines in terms of protection against infection, let me remind you that even before the appearance of the Omicron strain, it caused many questions.
Now the ability of vaccines and acquiredimmunity to protect against severe disease is a key issue. It is hoped that all re-infection will be mild. It is also highly likely that the new strain by itself in the vast majority of the population does not cause a severe course of the disease. Theoretically, this could mean the end of the pandemic - a large surge in the incidence, but without serious consequences it would have brought it to nothing.