Initial Omicron infections should not protect against current variants

Credit: REUTERS/Caroline Chia

People wear face masks amid the Omicron wave in Singapore (Credit: REUTERS/Caroline Chia)

By Nancy Lapid

NEW YORK (Reuters) – People infected with the first version of the Ômicron variant of the coronavirus, initially identified in South Africa in November, may be vulnerable to being reinfected with later versions of Ômicron, even if they have been vaccinated and given boosters, according to a report. new search.

Patients vaccinated with Omicron BA.1 infections have developed antibodies that can neutralize that virus and the original SARS-CoV-2 virus, but the Omicron strains circulating at this time have mutations that allow them to evade these antibodies, researchers in China said Friday. in the journal Nature.

Omicron BA.2.12.1, which currently causes the majority of infections in the United States, and Omicron BA.5 and BA.4, which now account for more than 21% of new cases in the US, contain mutations that are not present in BA.1 and BA.2 versions of Ômicron.

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These newer sublines “escape the neutralizing antibodies induced by SARS-CoV-2 infection and vaccination,” the researchers found with test-tube experiments.

Drugs with monoclonal antibodies, such as Eli Lilly’s bebtelovimab and cilgavimab, a component of AstraZeneca’s Evusheld, can still effectively neutralize the BA.2.12.1 and BA.4/BA.5 variants, according to the experiments.

But booster vaccines based on the BA.1 virus, such as those under development by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna, “may not achieve broad-spectrum protection against new variants of Omicron,” the researchers warned.

(Reporting by Nancy Lapid)

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