There appears to be a “very sharp drop” in immunity to the new variant among those who have received the vaccine from Pfizer, said Alex Sigal, a professor at the Africa Health Research Institute, after his lab studied samples. blood from 12 people vaccinated with the vaccine.
But – in results with promising implications for booster shots – the antibodies of those who had been naturally infected with the coronavirus in addition to being doubly vaccinated were significantly more effective, the small study found, which has yet to say. been peer reviewed.
Even though current vaccines are less effective at preventing peak infections in double-vaccinated people, scientists widely expect vaccines to continue to offer significant protection against serious illness and death.
The South African team also found that the omicron variant appears to use the same protein as previous iterations of the virus, the ACE2 receptor, in order to bind to human cells. – which is the target of current vaccines.
Prof Sigal wrote on Twitter that the results were “better than I expected from omicron,” adding: “The fact that he still needs the ACE2 receiver and the exhaust is incomplete means that this is a treatable problem with the tools [we’ve] me. »
He added that the study’s data was subject to adjustment as the team continued their experiments.
Responding to Professor Sigal’s summary of findings, Sir Jeremy Farrar, Director of the Wellcome Trust, thanked the team for their “extremely important” and “sobering” work.
Amidst the many praise for the rapid work of Dr Sigal’s team in preparing for the study, Catherine Moore, Clinical Scientist Consultant in Virology at Public Health Wales, said: “Fantastic to see this so soon. I think it shows what we expected, and it’s certainly not completely pessimistic. “
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