The Ministry of Health of the Spanish Government has warned that “evidence increases” that the omicron variant from covid-19 “escapes the immune response originated by the previous variants and by the vaccines “.
This has been collected by the Ministry in the update of the Rapid omicron risk assessment, published this Friday. The report, signed by the Center for the Coordination of Health Alerts and Emergencies (CCAES), points out that it is the “most genetically divergent” variant of those that has been detected during the pandemic, which “raises great concern that it may be associated with a significant reduction in the effectiveness of the vaccine and an increased risk of reinfections. “
In this regard, the CCAES experts detail that “several” of the changes in the sequence that encodes the spicule protein (gateway of the virus) of the omicron variant have been described previously, and “are associated with the immune escape of neutralizing antibodies or other properties “.
However, CCAES technicians clarify that “the immunological escape potential of non-neutralizing antibodies and memory T cells directed at non-surface proteins is more difficult to determine.” In various studies, it has been shown that vaccines also increase patients’ T cells to deal with the virus, so that they could have a different type of immunity to antibodies.
Memory T-cell responses may offer “a route to long-lasting immunity and protection against the development of severe disease “, even in situations where the evolution of the virus leads to mutations of spike proteins that escape pre-existing neutralizing antibodies.
In contrast, the recent spread of the omicron variant has been associated with “a decreased risk of primary infection and an increased risk of reinfection.” Experts have stressed that, if confirmed, this finding would have “important implications for public health planning”, particularly in countries such as South Africa, with high rates of immunity to previous infections.
On the other hand, the document reassures about the seriousness of the casesIt alleges that of all the cases reported in Europe with omicron “half were asymptomatic and the other half presented mild symptoms.” Furthermore, no cases of serious illness, hospitalizations or deaths have been reported.
Despite everything, from Health they call for prudence because “at the moment there are still few cases detected and they are also very recent.” They also recall that “serious results often take several weeks to be observed and more time to be evident at the population level, which would affect hospital occupancy rates.”
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.