According to a new study by scientists at Columbia University, the omicron variant of COVID-19 is “markedly resistant” to the current COVID vaccines, antibody treatments, and even booster shots.
“We found (omicron) to be markedly resistant to neutralization by serum not only from convalescent patients, but also from individuals vaccinated with one of the four widely used COVID-19 vaccines. Even serum from persons vaccinated and boosted with mRNA-based vaccines exhibited substantially diminished neutralizing activity against B.1.1.529,” the study said.
The study has not yet been reviewed by other experts or edited by a scientific journal, as it is currently in the “pre-print” stage.
According to the study, existing antibody therapies like monoclonal antibody cocktails are largely ineffective against omicron, along with natural antibodies from previous infections.
Now, this study would seem to indicate that recovered immunity does not shield you from omicron, given that it references “natural antibodies.”
But as Dr. John Campbell points out, natural immunity is about way more than just antibodies:
“We’ve noticed before that antibody levels are not really a good indicator of immunity levels. It’s much better to consider the memory cells, the memory cells, the memory T-cells, the killer cells, the helper cells, and the memory B-cells that are more important in the longevity of the immune response. You get the impression that attention is being focused on one particular aspect of immunity, whereas immunity is a spectrum of responses. The natural killer cells, of course, we now know that there’s a specific response in the natural killer cells as well…”
So just focusing on antibodies alone is misleading.
The takeaway from this study, though, is that if omicron is resistant to the vaccines and even the booster, and omicron is going to be the dominant strain of Covid in the country soon, then what is the point of the vaccine mandate?
The way we talk about vaccines in this country is so irrational. Lots of vaccinated people get extremely angry at unvaccinated people, believing that unvaccinated people put vaccinated people in danger. Is this really an attitude people would take if they were confident in the vaccine?
In a normal, well-adjusted society with a working vaccine that people are confident in, the conversation between a vaccinated person and an unvaccinated person would go like this:
“I just got the vaccine. Did you get it?”
“Oh, why not?”
“Well, I’ve heard a lot about the adverse events, I just don’t feel comfortable getting it.” (Or whatever reason.)
“Okay, well suit yourself.”
This is how normal, rational people would talk about it. The vaccinated person would be assured that he is fine, and would basically view an unvaccinated person the same way he’d view someone who doesn’t wear a seatbelt in the car.
If you’re wearing your seatbelt, you’ll be better off in case of a crash. A passenger not wearing a seatbelt has no impact on your likelihood of survival as long as you yourself are wearing a seatbelt.
But instead, it’s “WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU? HOW DARE YOU!! YOU’RE A MURDERER! YOU’RE GOING TO GET US ALL KILLED!”
This is because people deep down do not have confidence in the vaccine.
Yet they still excoriate unvaccinated people because of social, political and media pressures.
Ultimately, it might be a good thing that omicron spreads so easily, though.
This is because all indications show that omicron is “less severe” than the earlier variants–it’s more transmissible, but milder. A South African study found this to be the case:
The risk of hospitalization among adults infected with the Omicron variant of COVID-19 is up to 29 percent lower compared to earlier variants of the virus, according to a new study.
The first real-world analysis, based on 78,000 Omicron cases in South Africa, found that the strain causes less severe disease, with 29 percent fewer hospitalizations compared to the original Wuhan variant and 23 percent fewer than Delta, according to the Telegraph.
The findings of the study, conducted by South Africa’s largest private health insurer, Discovery Health, are preliminary and have not been peer-reviewed, but they do line up with other early data about Omicron’s behavior.
Professor Robert Dingwall, a medical sociologist at Nottingham Trent University who has also advised the UK government on COVID, said the data shows the panic about Omicron is “absurd.”
“The Omicron situation seems to be increasingly absurd. There is obviously a lot of snobbery about South African science and medicine but their top people are as good as any you would find in a more universally developed country,” he told the Telegraph.
“They clearly don’t feel that the elite panic over here is justified, even allowing for the demographic differences in vulnerability — which are probably more than canceled by the higher vaccination rate.
“My gut feeling is that Omicron is very much like the sort of flu pandemic we planned for — a lot of sickness absence from work in a short period, which will create difficulties for public services and economic activity, but not of such a severity as to be a big problem for the [UK’s National Health Service] and the funeral business.”
The encouraging data on hospitalizations comes even despite the South African study also showing that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine offers less defense against Omicron.
People who received two doses of the vaccine appeared to have just 33 percent protection against infection, down from 80 percent previously.
Omicron is how we get to herd immunity, I think.
Less severe, more transmissible: it’s a good thing that this is now what we’re dealing with, isn’t it? I mean obviously no Covid it all would be preferred, but if given the choice between delta variant and omicron, it should be obvious that omicron is preferable.
It’ll get us to herd immunity levels quicker, and with fewer deaths.