New Omicron subvariants can dodge immunity and can cause waves: research
Two new sub-strains of the Omicron coronavirus variant can fend off antibodies from previous infections enough to trigger a new wave, but thrive in the blood of people vaccinated with COVID-19. South African scientists have found that there is much less to do.
Scientists from multiple institutions were investigating the BA.4 and BA.5 sub-strains of Omicron. This was added to the watch list by the World Health Organization last month. They took blood samples from 39 participants who were previously infected with Omicron when Omicron first appeared at the end of last year.
Fifteen people were vaccinated. Eight were Pfizer shots. Seven were from J & J and the other 24 were not.
“The vaccinated group showed about five times higher neutralization capacity … and should be better protected,” said a study whose preprint was released over the weekend.
In unvaccinated samples, exposure to BA.4 and BA.5 reduced antibody production by almost one-eighth compared to the original BA.1 omicron strain. Blood from vaccinated people showed a one-third reduction.