Omicron subvariants escape antibody responses: study

Study shows that the Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 can escape antibody responses. — AFP/File 
  • Subvariants can escape antibody responses among those who had contracted COVID-19 and those who are vaccinated, boosted. 
  • Vaccination is expected to provide substantial protection against coronavirus.
  • Study shows it may also increase “risk of vaccine-breakthrough COVID-19 infections.”

A new study shows that the Omicron subvariants BA4 and BA5 can escape antibody responses among people who had contracted COVID-19 and those who have been vaccinated and boosted. 

However, the vaccination is expected to provide substantial protection against coronavirus.

Meanwhile, the vaccine makers are also working on upgraded shots that may evoke a stronger immune response against the subvariants, CNN reported. 

According to the new research published in the New England Journal of Medicine, compared with the original coronavirus, the levels of neutralising antibodies that a previous infection or vaccinations elicit are several times lower against the BA4 and BA5 subvariants. 

“We observed three-fold reductions of neutralizing antibody titers induced by vaccination and infection against BA4 and BA5 compared with BA1 and BA2, which are already substantially lower than the original COVID-19 variants,” wrote Dr Dan Barouch, who is an author of the paper. 

“Our data suggest that these new Omicron subvariants will likely be able to lead to surges of infections in populations with high levels of vaccine immunity as well as natural BA1 and BA2 immunity,” he added. 

The findings are separate researches by scientists at Columbia University, according to which, the escaping of BA4 and BA5 viruses also increases the “risk of vaccine-breakthrough COVID-19 infections.”

Their studies also suggest an increased risk of reinfection, among those people who had been immunised against the virus. 

European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control said that the subvariants are reported to be fast-spreading ones, which are expected to dominate the United States, United Kingdom and the rest of Europe in the upcoming few weeks. 

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