The new omicron coronavirus strain could significantly reduce the effectiveness of existing vaccines. This was stated by the leading microbiologists of the University of Hong Kong, Calvin To, informs South China Morning Post.
“This particular strain has all the characteristics of previous mutations, even more. Therefore, I believe that the existing vaccines will not be as effective, but how much, it is difficult to predict yet, ”said To.
According to the expert, it will take several weeks to study the properties of the strain.
Earlier, a team of scientists from the University of Hong Kong, which included To, was the first in Asia to successfully isolate a new strain from clinical samples. The research team is now trying to assess the transmission ability of the virus, the response of the immune system to it, and the prospects for developing new vaccines.
At the same time, Israeli Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz said that “there are indications that people fully vaccinated in the past six months are also protected from the omicron option.
“In the coming days, we will have more accurate information about the effectiveness of the vaccine against the new strain, but there is already optimistic information that vaccines protect against this variant of the virus,” quotes Horovitsa Jerusalem Post.
According to Israel, the Pfizer vaccine is only slightly less effective at preventing omicron contamination than the delta variant – 90% versus 95%. That being said, it is just as effective in preventing severe symptoms in those who have been boosted.
Earlier, the governments of several countries closed borders due to the spread of a new strain of the coronavirus “omicron”. Strain B.1.1.529, which received this name, was first discovered in South Africa in November. Since then, cases of infection with this variant of the virus have been identified in the UK, Belgium, Hong Kong, Israel, Italy, Germany and, presumably, the Czech Republic. WHO called omicron a “worrying” option.
The Insider talked with molecular biologist Konstantin Severinov about how much the new strain can be more dangerous than the previous ones and whether the existing vaccines can cope with it.