Updated: Mar 14
Amidst the latest encouraging news about the Omicron variant's attenuated capacity to multiply in lung tissues despite its remarkable transmissibility, evidence has emerged that Omicron can evade the immune protection conferred by both the vaccines and natural infection.
A collaborative study between Columbia researchers and scientists from the University of Hong Kong, published in Nature, was conducted among the South African population vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine to look for Omicron's escape from antibody neutralization. They collected blood samples from recently vaccinated and previously infected participants and those vaccinated with no evidence of a previous infection.
As demonstrated earlier, they observed that previously infected and vaccinated individuals had higher neutralization capacity to the original viral strain relative to those only vaccinated. Unfortunately, the ability to neutralize the Omicron variant was 22-fold lower compared to its ancestral counterpart among all the participants. Despite the extensive escape of the Omicron variant from antibody neutralization, scientists continue to believe that the residual neutralization level among vaccinated individuals might still be sufficient to maintain the reasonable effectiveness of protection from severe disease and hospitalization, thus still encouraging everyone to get fully vaccinated.