The new variant of the coronavirus ‘greatly compromises’ the potency of vaccines in preventing infection. A new study shows that vaccines from the four major brands, as well as booster shots, may not be effective in combating the virus.
Drop In Antibodies
These findings were arrived at after a team of researchers at Columbia University tested the Omicron variant on the blood of people who received two doses of vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca, as well as boosters from the first two companies.
The data revealed a 21-fold drop in antibodies neutralizing Omicron in samples from people vaccinated with two doses of Pfizer, versus the original Covid-19 strand.
According to the study published on Wednesday, antibodies were extremely low in samples of people with two doses of the Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca vaccines, making them undetectable. That means that those vaccines essentially did not provide protection against the Omicron variant. The researchers wrote:
These findings are in line with emerging clinical data on the Omicron variant demonstrating higher rates of reinfection and vaccine breakthroughs.
Booster Shot Protection Not Guaranteed
The team also noticed a drop in the antibodies of patients who took a booster shot - 6.5 times less for the Omicron variant compared to the original strain.
According to the study, this indicates Omicron ‘may still pose a risk’ for people who get boosted.
Even a third booster shot may not adequately protect against Omicron infection.
This is one of recent studies suggesting that existing vaccines may not be as effective against Omicron as they are against the other strains of the virus.
The researchers warned that the study may hint at further dangers in the future related to the Omicron variant.
It is not too far-fetched to think that this (Covid-19) is now only a mutation or two away from being pan-resistant to current antibodies. We must devise strategies that anticipate the evolutional direction of the virus and develop agents that target better conserved viral elements.