November 30, 2022

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Infections, Symptoms, Vaccines … The portrait of the Omigron variant is gradually emerging

Update the situation as this variant will soon dominate Belgium.

This is already the majority in Denmark or the United Kingdom, where we have over 100,000 cases daily and are preparing to do so in other countries. Including Belgium. By doing so he takes advantage of the delta he previously dominated.

At the same time, preliminary studies this week from South Africa, Scotland and the UK show that fewer are hospitalized than the Omicron Delta. According to these data, which are still incomplete and should be handled with caution, Omicron may be 35% and 80% less than delta.

Important point: It is not known whether this low severity came from the intrinsic characteristics of the variant or whether it affects people who are already somewhat immunocompromised (vaccinated or previously infected).

Hospital effects?

This is the big question that remains unanswered. The equation depends on two unknowns: will the drop in the intensity of the omigran be sufficient to compensate for the fact that it is highly contagious? WHO (World Health Organization) Director-General Tetros recently warned that “although Omigron may cause less severe symptoms, the number of patients may again overwhelm unprepared health systems.” Adhanom Ghebreyesus. In South Africa, this impact seems to be limited, but this finding cannot be extended to countries in the Northern Hemisphere where the population is high.

Scientists expect a lot from hospital data coming out of the UK in the coming days as the country was first hit by the Omigron wave on the continent of Europe. “It’s very important to see what happens in London next week. It will teach a lot about the severity of the disease caused by Omigran, said Professor Arnaud Fontaine, a member of the French Science Council, on Thursday.

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What about vaccines?

Mutations in omigran allow the antibody to reduce immunity to the virus. Effect: It can contaminate a large number of vaccines (and re-infect those previously infected with the virus).

Several laboratory studies have shown that amicron’s antibody levels decrease in people vaccinated with the Chinese vaccine AstraZeneca or Sinovac used in Pfizer / BioNTech, Moderna and fifty other countries.

As a stimulant, a booster dose can significantly boost antibody immunity. This is exactly what Podizer / BioNTech announced on Monday by Moderna and then on Thursday by AstroGeneca. But there is one important information: we do not know how long this effect will last.

Conversely, a study by Hong Kong researchers published on Thursday shows that even with a booster, Zinovac does not produce enough antibodies.

Finally, we do not know the answer to the fifth novovax vaccine approved in the European Union on Monday. This was actually tested in clinical trials when alpha and beta variants were more common.

But all this does not mean that vaccines are no longer effective. This is because antibodies are only a part of the immune response, which includes cells called D lymphocytes.

It is very difficult to measure and this “cellular immunity” however plays a very important role, especially against severe forms of the disease.

Therefore, a study submitted in mid-December in South Africa suggests that Pfizer / BioNTech may be effective against extreme forms caused by Omicron, even before the booster (and maybe even more).

Confused?

Although the Omigron wave did not drown the hospital, this variant could still wreak havoc in many countries.

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Its unprecedented epidemic could actually lead to an explosion of “non-existent” by isolated activities, so the “restructuring” of many sectors (supermarkets, transport, hospital, school …), the Science Council of France warned on Thursday.

“This is really new data that we do not have with other waves, which is linked to the diffusion speed of Omigron,” said Professor Olivier Currin, a member of the organization.

To control this disorder, it may be necessary to relax the rules of isolation, as Omicron seems to cause less severe forms of goiter.

This is what the British government did on Wednesday, reducing the period of isolation in the UK for those vaccinated against Govt disease from ten to seven days.