New research adds more evidence that the Omicron variant can evade the immune protection induced by vaccines and natural infection, according to Science Daily.
The new study, published in the journal Nature, suggests that there is a need for new vaccines and treatments that can anticipate how the coronavirus may soon evolve.
Experts found that one of the striking features of Omicron is its spike protein that could be posing a threat to the efficacy of current vaccines and antibody treatments.
Researchers tested the ability of antibodies induced by vaccination to neutralize Omicron in lab assays that pitted antibodies against live viruses and against pseudoviruses to mimic the new variant.
The researchers looked at antibodies generated from people who took either Moderna, Pfizer, AstraZeneca, or Johnson & Johnson. They found the vaccine-induced antibodies were significantly less effective at neutralizing Omicron. Also, the antibodies from previously infected people were even less likely to neutralize Omicron.
Although people who received a booster shot of Pfizer or Moderna were found to be better protected, their antibodies still exhibited diminished neutralizing activity against the new variant.
Lead author Dr. David Ho said, “The new results suggest that previously infected individuals and fully vaccinated individuals are at risk for infection with the omicron variant. Even a third booster shot may not adequately protect against omicron infection, but of course, it is advisable to get one, as you’ll still benefit from some immunity.”
What’s more? Most monoclonal antibodies are also failing to neutralize Omicron. The study found that all therapies used to treat COVID-19 are much less effective against Omicron.
Dr. Ho’s lab identified four new spike mutations in Omicron, which are helping the virus to evade antibodies. He suggested that researchers should develop vaccines and treatments that can better anticipate how the coronavirus is evolving.
“It is not too far-fetched to think that SARS-CoV-2 is now only a mutation or two away from being completely resistant to current antibodies, either the monoclonal antibodies used as therapies or the antibodies generated by vaccination or infection with previous variants,” Dr. Ho explained. The story appeared in Science Daily.