Early lab results suggest existing vaccines could be less effective
against the fast-spreading coronavirus variant, but boosters should
The fast-spreading Omicron SARS-CoV-2 variant is highly likely to
compromise some of the protection from vaccines, suggest the first
laboratory studies of Omicron‚??s ability to evade immunity.
But the preliminary results ‚?? released overnight by teams in South
Africa, Germany, and Sweden, as well as the Pfizer-BioNtech
collaboration ‚?? hint that protection conferred by existing COVID-19
vaccines won‚??t be totally wiped out, and that boosters should improve
immunity to Omicron.
‚??We‚??re likely to see reduced effectiveness of vaccines against
preventing infection,‚?Ě says Penny Moore, a virologist at the University
of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, who co-authored one of
the studies. ‚??I think it‚??s a strong argument to get boosters out there.‚?Ě
The studies, which measure the capacity of antibodies in people‚??s blood
to block the infection of cells in a dish, have not yet been peer
reviewed, and do not tell researchers the extent to which vaccines‚??
ability to protect against COVID-19 ‚?? in particular, its most severe
forms ‚?? could be compromised by Omicron.
‚??We still need to wait for more effectiveness data and clear signals
from the places where this is blowing up first,‚?Ě says Ben Murrell, an
interdisciplinary virologist and immunologist at the Karolinska
Institute in Stockholm, who co-led one of the studies.
Omicron likely to weaken COVID vaccine protection (nature.com)