Research by scientists in South Africa has found that two new strains of the Covid-19 Omicron variant can resist immunity acquired from previous infections. The underlines in question are BA.4 and BA.5 by Ômicron. Both were added last month to the World Health Organization (WHO) watch list.
However, the research highlighted that these sublines are much less able to develop in the blood of people with Covid-19 vaccines, which reinforces the importance of vaccination.
During the study, the researchers collected blood samples from 39 patients who had already been infected with Ômicron. Of all the participants, only 15 were vaccinated against Covid-19, eight of them with the Pfizer immunizer and another seven with the Janssen vaccine.
“The vaccinated group showed a neutralization capacity about five times greater”, the research pointed out. While those unvaccinated experienced an almost eight-fold decrease in antibody production when exposed to the BA.4 and BA.5 strains, when compared to the effects of exposure to the original Omicron strain.
Only 30% of the population of South Africa is fully vaccinated against Covid-19, which could pose a great risk for a new wave of infections brought about by the new sublines.
“Based on escape from neutralization, BA.4 and BA.5 have the potential to result in a new wave of infection,” the study concluded.
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