Tue. Jan 18th, 2022

Cellular immunity elicited by the BioNTech / Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccines is effective against the Omicron coronavirus variant, according to a study, which suggests that vaccines will protect against serious diseases, even if the antibody responses against the stem not as strong or durable.

The findings, contained in a new Harvard medical school study, adduce evidence that current vaccines are resistant to serious Covid outcomes, and could help health authorities decide whether to switch to Omicron-targeted jabs.

“These data suggest that current vaccines can provide significant protection against serious diseases with the Sars-Cov-2 Omicron variant despite the significant reduction in neutralizing antibody responses,” the researchers wrote. in the study Announced Monday. The paper has not yet been peer-reviewed.

Previous evidence suggests that existing vaccines lose antibody power when pitted against Omicron, meaning that individuals are likely to become infected and develop mild illnesses when they come in contact with the virus.

A third shot at least partially restores that antibody protection, and countries rushed to scale up their incentive programs to avoid new restrictions. But vaccines are still expected to protect against serious diseases, and health authorities said they will carefully examine evidence such as that contained in the Monday study to decide whether a switch to Omicron-targeted vaccines is necessary.

Cellular immunity is another part of the immune response that tends to last longer than antibodies.

While manufacturing projections for 2022 indicate supply will keep up with demand in most scenarios as the world continues to use the shots currently available, the switch to Omicron-targeted vaccines could cause a global supply squeeze.

Healthcare research firm Airfinity has estimated – at best – that if all drugmakers change production and scale up rapidly, 6 billion Omicron-targeted shots would be available by October 2022. If drugmakers changed half of their production and continued to make both versions, that target will not be reached before January next year.

Health authorities sounded the alarm late last year about the highly mutated Omicron variant, saying it could be pierced by immunity granted by previous vaccines or infection, but scientists hoped widely used shots could still protect against serious diseases.

Early findings suggest that Omicron appears to be lighter than previous variants, but it is not yet clear whether this is due to the variant itself, or because most of the world is either infected or vaccinated, or a combination of the two factors.

However, scientists have said that its high transmissibility, coupled with unequal vaccine coverage, could still mean health systems worldwide come under pressure as many more people become infected.

The World Health Organization has repeatedly called for more equitable distribution of vaccines. It set a target of 70 percent coverage in all nations by mid-2022 after about half of its member states were unable to reach the 40 percent milestone in 2021. The health body said the failure to reach targets was largely due to severe undersupply. .

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