An investigation team made up of German researchers has discovered the reason why the Omicron variant of the coronavirus causes fewer deaths and severe cases, even though it manages to escape the body’s protection more easily. According to the scientists, the strain is most easily inhibited by the interferon response, an immune protection present in every cell in the body that triggers the production of antibodies.
The study, carried out by professionals from the German universities of Kent and Frankfurt and published this Monday (24/1), indicates that this is the first reason for the lower occurrence of severe cases in those infected with Ômicron. In addition, the findings show that the variant is vulnerable to eight antiviral drugs that are being tested to treat Covid-19.
“Our study provides for the first time an explanation of why Omicron infections are less responsible for causing serious illness. This is because Omicron, unlike Delta, does not effectively inhibit the interferon immune response in host cells.
Learn more about coronavirus variants:
Researcher at the Medical Institute of Virology at the University of Frankfurt, Jindrich Cinatl, reinforced that, although cell culture experiments reproduced in the laboratory do not exactly reflect the situation in an infected person, the data provide encouraging evidence that the antiviral drugs available against Covid -19 may also be effective against Omicron.
The research points out that, specifically, the new variant reduces the immune response of Calu-3 and Caco-2 cells less when compared to Delta. The study data, published in the scientific journal Nature, show that “Omicron viruses are less effective than Delta viruses in antagonizing the interferon response in human cells, which may contribute to the lower pathogenicity of the Omicron variant seen in patients.” .
“Our comparison, in different cellular models, shows that the Ômicron viruses remain sensitive to a wide range of anti-Sars-Cov-2 drugs and drug candidates with various types of mechanisms of action”, emphasizes the document.