Catching Omicron variant ‘does NOT provide immunity from reinfection’, scientists reveal – saying it helps explain the continued rise in cases
- Latest study finds Omicron variant of Covid gives no immunity from reinfection
- Imperial College researchers described it as ‘more stealthy’ than past variants
- Previous variants provided some immunity from reinfection – but not Omicron
The investigators say Omicron and its evolutions could explain why Covid cases remain higher than predicted in the UK.
Earlier studies found that past illnesses with Covid provided some immunity against re-infection – but the latest research indicates that is not the case with the Omicron variant, The Telegraph reports.
Prof Danny Altmann from the Imperial College’s Department of Immunology and Inflammation, said: ‘The message is a little bleak. Omicron and its variants are great at breakthroughs but bad at inducing immunity, thus we get reinfections ad nauseum and a badly depleted workforce.
‘Not only can it break through vaccine defences, it looks to leave very few of the hallmarks we’d expect on the immune system.
‘It’s more stealthy than previous variants and flies under the radar, so the immune system is unable to remember it.’
Covid sufferers who caught the Omicron variant will not be protected from catching it again, according to scientists
Earlier studies found that past illnesses with Covid provided some immunity against re-infection – but the latest research indicates that is not the case with the Omicron variant
Researchers have been attempting to understand why people become reinfected with omicron, often soon after recovering from a previous spell of the disease.
Blood samples were collected from UK healthcare workers who were triple-vaccinated and with different infection patterns with Covid in order to understand antibody, T and B cell immunity.
The research uncovered that among those who were triple-vaccinated with no past infection, Omicron provided an immunity boost against earlier variants such as alpha, beta, gamma and the original ancestral strain – but practically none against Omicron itself.
Covid sufferers first affected during the first wave of the virus and then again with Omicron were also found to lack any immunity – a trend labelled ‘hybrid immune damping’ by researchers.
‘[Omicron] is more stealthy than previous variants and flies under the radar, so the immune system is unable to remember it,’ said Prof Danny Altmann from the Imperial College’s Department of Immunology and Inflammation
Covid-19 deaths registered in England and Wales have continued to fall, though the size of the drop has been affected by the Jubilee bank holidays.
A total of 186 deaths registered in the seven days to June 3 mentioned coronavirus on the death certificate, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
This is down 55% week-on-week and is the lowest number since July 2021.
The latest total covers a period that includes the bank holidays marking the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee on June 2 and 3, when most register offices were closed.
This means fewer deaths were registered than would normally be the case.