The updated pandemic-related subvariant of omicron BA.4/BA.5 is occupied by the reoccupied subvariants. According to Columbia University's Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, they are now better at evading vaccines and most antibodies than their predecessors.
"The virus is evolving as expected. It's not surprising that new, more transmissible subvariants are becoming more prevalent around the globe. David D. Ho, the lead researcher, said that it is crucial to understand how vaccines and antibodies treat new subvariants in order to develop strategies to prevent severe illness, hospitalizations and death, if any, as well as infection. The paper has been published in Nature.
Ho says that "our study indicates that these highly transmissible variants continue to spread throughout the globe, and they will cause more infections in people who have been vaccinated with mRNA vaccines currently available," Ho states.
Ho and his colleagues conducted laboratory experiments to determine whether antibodies could be neutralized by individuals who had received three or more doses of mRNA vaccine.
Because of an earlier study that found two doses are not sufficient to protect against infection with older omicron variants, the research team didn't examine anyone who hadn't received a booster shot.
The study showed that BA.2.12.1 was only slightly more resistant to BA.2 than BA.2 in individuals who were boosted vaccinated, but BA.4/5 was at most four times as resistant as its predecessor.
The scientists also tested 19 monoclonal antibodies to neutralize variants. They found that only one antibody treatment was highly effective against both BA.18.104.22.168 and BA.4/5.
The new variants could cause more severe diseases in vaccine-vaccinated people, according to the current study.
The United States may be able to improve the protection against severe diseases and infection by focusing on developing new booster vaccines for BA.4/5. Ho says that in today's environment, it may be necessary to develop new vaccines and treatments to prevent the evolution of SARS-CoV-2 viruses.