Pfizer shots and past infection can better protect against Omicron: Scientists

A two-dose regimen of Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE’s Covid-19 shot as well as a previous infection with the disease may provide stronger protection against the omicron variant, said researchers from the Africa Health Research Institute in South Africa.

Laboratory tests on blood plasma led them to estimate that there would be 73% protection against symptomatic disease from omicron and 95% against serious infections for those who had been vaccinated and previously infected, the researchers, led by Alex Sigal, said in a pre-release . on Wednesday. A pre-print has not been peer reviewed.

The researchers rated 35% protection against symptomatic disease and 77% protection against serious infection for those who had only been vaccinated. This still indicates “substantial protection,” they said. The study included 19 participants with a mean age of 52 years.

The study repeats the first results from Discovery Health Ltd., South Africa’s largest health insurance provider with 3.7 million customers who retrieved results from health records. It also reflects studies conducted by Pfizer itself.

Still, there is concern that the subdued number of hospitalizations and deaths in South Africa, even though daily cases hit record highs on Wednesday, may be due to the level of previous infections. A recent antibody study showed that in the province of Gauteng, the epicenter of the omicron outbreak, 72% of people had previously been infected with Covid-19. Other countries that have had less intense waves of infections may have a different experience. The age of the participants can also be a factor. While the team led by Sigal does not

The results did not take into account the time of sample collection shortly after vaccination, and therefore may not show the decreasing neutralization capacity, which reduces the effectiveness of the vaccine over time. Nevertheless, prolonged T cell immunity to the beta and delta variants indicates that a more complete immune response is also likely to contribute to protection against severe disease caused by omicron infection, counteracting the effects of the lower initial antibody response.

South African and Botswana scientists’ discovery of the omicron variant, which spread rapidly across the globe, was announced on 25 November. Sigal’s team was the first to show that the variant could largely, but not completely, escape the antibodies produced by Pfizer’s vaccine.

This story has been published from a telecommunications agency feed with no changes to the text. Only the heading has been changed.

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