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This common COVID treatment could stop omicron variant, early research shows

Some common COVID-19 treatments might not work against the omicron variant, though.

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Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt donates convalescent plasma.

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, left, donates convalescent plasma at the Oklahoma Blood Institute in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020.

Sue Ogrocki, Associated Press

A well-known COVID-19 treatment might work to stop omicron variant symptoms from turning severe, according to The Washington Post.

Scientists from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine published new findings this week that show giving convalescent plasma early in the course of the COVID-19 infection could reduce hospitalization from COVID-19 by almost 50%, according to The Washington Post.

  • “Our findings suggest that this is another effective treatment for COVID-19 with the advantages being low cost, wide availability and rapid resilience to the evolving SARS-CoV-2,” Kelly Gebo, a co-lead author of the study and a professor of medicine at the Hopkins School of Medicine, said in a statement.

Of course, the findings were conducted from June 2020 to October 2021 — just before the omicron variant arrived in the United States. Per The Washington Post, experts hope the treatment will help treat people for the omicron variant, too.

But experts aren’t quite sure if common COVID-19 treatments will work against the omicron variant. For example, Dr. Brandon Webb, an infectious disease physician at Intermountain Healthcare, said that antibody treatments — which were close 80% effective at reducing the likelihood of hospitalization or death among COVID-19 patients — might not work with omicron.

  • “The variant has a number of mutations in the spike protein that are in the same areas where those monoclonal antibodies target,” Webb said, according to the Deseret News. “And the result is that two of our three currently authorized monoclonal antibodies are likely not to work at all. They’re likely to be completely ineffective against omicron.”

Because the omicron variant can escape immunity — both from natural immunity and vaccines — doctors have fewer tools to use against omicron, he said.

Indeed, some early research has indicated the omicron variant is resistant to vaccines, antibody treatments and COVID-19 booster shots, as I wrote for the Deseret News. Experts still recommend people get their COVID-19 vaccine and COVID-19 booster shots to stay well protected from the variant.