An omicron variant infection creates limited immunity for unvaccinated, study finds
An omicron variant infection might not protect unvaccinated people against future COVID-19 variants
An infection from the omicron variant of the coronavirus creates limited immunity in unvaccinated people, a new study has found.
Details: A new study — published by Nature Portfolio and published on Research Square ahead of peer review — found that the antibodies created by the omicron variant do not neutralize other variants of the coronavirus.
- Specifically, antibodies from the omicron BA.1 variant and the BA.2 variants do not ward off other versions of the variant.
- Scientists discovered this after analyzing blood samples from those infected by omicron.
- The researchers also found that those with “breakthrough” infections — when someone still got infected after getting three doses of the COVID-19 vaccine — had higher levels of antibodies against omicron, according to Reuters.
Worth noting: Vaccination and natural infection antibodies “were very specific for the respective Omicron variant, and we detected almost no neutralizing antibodies targeting non-Omicron virus strains,” said Karin Stiasny and Judity Aberle of the Medical University of Vienna, Austria, in a statement, per Reuters.
The bigger picture: Researchers have been reviewing how well natural immunity can protect someone from the variant.
- One reason the omicron variant has been surging in China is that the country does not have full immunity to omicron yet, which has allowed it to infect more people, as I wrote for the Deseret News.
- But the omicron variant is a little more complicated.
What they said: Dr. Hilary Fairbrother, an emergency medicine physician based in Houston, Texas, said that the omicron variant can still reinfect you, even with immunity.
- “This idea of natural immunity is not really panning out with this virus,” Fairbrother said on Yahoo Finance Live. “I think part of that is because omicron has so many mutations, and there’s really no way to know what the next variant will have.”
- “I think the problem with herd immunity is that is really taking into account that this virus won’t mutate significantly and we might not have a very significant variant roaming around that has nothing to do with omicron that really doesn’t see any natural immunity from people who have been sick with omicron,” Fairbrother said.