Omychronic variant of Covid-19: less effective vaccines against the new strain?

the essential
A new study from South Africa says that two doses of the Pfizer vaccine would not be enough to combat the new variant of Omicron. The scientific community agrees on the need for an update of the vaccines currently on the market.

The latest arrival on the scene of the Covid-19 pandemic never ceases to worry us. More contagious first, it is “almost certain” that the Omicron variant does not however cause more serious cases of Covid-19 than the Delta variant, according to the statements of the White House adviser on the health crisis, Anthony Fauci, who spoke on Tuesday. December 7th.

In addition to its aggressiveness, the resistance capacity of this new strain against existing vaccines is worrying. On Tuesday, Sigallab, a Durban-based Africa Health Research Institute lab, drew its first conclusions. This study establishes, among other things, that those who only received two doses of the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine no longer appear capable of neutralizing the Omicron variant. “Clearly, if they come across Omicron, their clinical risk is highest,” says Claude-Alexandre Gustave, a medical biologist on Twitter.

Finally, no need to wait until the weekend for Omicron neutralization results! …
But the news is not very good …

– Claude-Alexandre GUSTAVE (@C_A_Gustave) December 7, 2021

Another scenario: people who have been contaminated by the virus, and who have received two doses of the Pfizer vaccine, also lose, in the long term, some neutralization capacity in the face of the new strain of Covid-19.

An effective reminder?

In short, these people produce enough antibodies to fight the variant, but “on the other hand, this protection probably won’t last long,” explains Claude-Alexandre Gustave. “The more antibodies you have, the more likely you are to be protected against Omicron,” concludes Alex Sigal’s study.

Also Read: Omicron Variant of Covid-19: According to BioNTech CEO, “New Vaccine” Will Be Needed

What to encourage the scientific community to plebiscite the Covid-19 vaccine booster campaign, pending the update of current vaccines. Even if in this new study, Alex Sigal claims to have not investigated the effectiveness of booster doses against the Omicron variant and for good reason: South Africa has yet to start its Covid-19 vaccine booster campaign.

An “immune escape ability”

In conclusion, the efficacy of the vaccine could be significantly decreased compared to the Omicron variant. This also encourages laboratories to work on an update of existing vaccines to fight effectively against this variant and these 32 new mutations.

Also read: Covid-19 omichronic variant: new strain prevents acquired immunity after infection, study suggests

The hypothesis had also been suggested by Uğur Şahin, president and CEO and founder of the pharmaceutical laboratory BioNTech: the latter affirms that the new, more contagious variant Omicron “has a great chance of escaping the defenses of the immune system”, generated by vaccines today. in the market. The CEO wants to be reassuring: the messenger RNA technique would allow according to him “to adapt a vaccine fairly quickly to a new mutation”: a new version of the vaccine against Covid-19 is expected in “six weeks”, for the first time batches ” delivered in a hundred days. “

WHO wants to reassure

For its part, the World Health Organization wanted to reassure about the effectiveness of the vaccines currently used: “There is no reason to doubt” that current vaccines protect patients contaminated by the Omicron variant against severe forms of Covid -19, estimated Michael Ryan. , the WHO emergency manager.

“We have very effective vaccines that have been shown to be potent against all variants so far, in terms of severity of illness and hospitalization, and there is no reason to believe that would not be the case,” explained Dr. Ryan with Omicron. , while emphasizing that we were at the beginning of the studies of a variant detected only on November 24 and that since then it has been detected in some forty countries.

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