Viruses including the Covid-19 virus, tend to mutate in order to evolve and find ways around our immunity. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Viruses constantly change through mutation and sometimes these mutations result in a new variant of the virus. Some variations allow the virus to spread more easily or make it resistant to treatments or vaccines.” According to researchers who have been closely monitoring Covid-19 and its new variants, newly emerged Omicron strains seem to be more infectious than the previous ones as it seems to be extremely immune-evasive. While a majority of the population have been building up their immunity through the Covid-19 vaccines and infection, unfortunately it seems that due to the new strain’s immune evasive abilities the current developed immunity does not seem to be enough to fight off the new strain of Omicron. According to Sience.org “researchers in China and Sweden have found that spike protein from BA.2.75.2 can effectively evade nearly all the monoclonal antibodies used for treating COVID-19, suggesting these treatments may become useless.” With that in mind, we must remember to keep taking precautionary measures to protect ourselves and those around us from becoming severely infected from this new Covid-19 strain. While this does not mean that we are back at step one, it does mean that there is a large possibility of a new wave of Covid-19 with many more infected.
What are the newest Omicron Subvarients?
The Omicron variant has been a variant of concern since November 2021. This variant came to attention as it had several mutations and seemed to spread more easily than previous variants. As the virus progresses, it tries to mutate in order to find new ways to infect human cells against the antibodies and defeat our newly built immunity. Almost one year later, the Omicron variant continues to mutate into new strains and sub-variants that grow to be more resistant to immunity. BA.2.75.2 is a new variant of the Omicron virus that has been identified. This sub-variant is immune-evading, which means it can spread and mutate faster than other strains of the virus. Antibodies are less effective against this strain, and it is resistant to many of the treatments and vaccines that have been developed for Covid-19. This makes BA.2.75.2 more contagious and dangerous than other variants of the virus. Researchers are working on developing new treatments and vaccines that are effective against this strain, but in the meantime, it is important to take precautions to prevent its spread. BA.2.75.2 is more likely to cause a surge in Covid-19 cases, so it is important to be aware of the symptoms and to take steps to protect yourself and others.
Can the current Covid-19 vaccines and treatments protect against this new strain?
The vaccine has been successful in providing us with some immunity and protection with the previous variants and strains of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. However, the new BA.5 and BA.4 Omicron strains seem to have mutated into new strains to find ways around this immunity. New research shows that the new strain of Omicron evades the antibodies built by Covid-19 vaccination and infection; thus, the Covid-19 vaccine does not seem to be as effective in protecting human cells from Covid-19 infection. Immunologist Yunlong Richard Cao at Peking University says, “The scale of immune evasion has never been seen before, and the virus is still rapidly evolving.” It is apparent that the new Covid-19 vaccine needs to be keeping up with the constant viral mutations. According to Jesse Bloom, evolutionary biologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, “The choice to put BA.5 in the vaccine booster is still looking like a good one, the boosters are always going to be a step behind, but the good news is that the BA.5 booster is going to be one or two steps behind the virus’ evolution, instead of five steps behind.” With that in mind, it is still important to get your booster shots and stay up-to-date with your Covid-19 vaccinations in order to stay protected as much as possible because according to Nature.com “Boosters, including new bivalent vaccines that target Omicron lineages, are likely to offer some protection against infection with emerging variants.” Take the necessary precautions to avoid getting ill with the new strain. This means that people who have been vaccinated may still be able to contract and spread the virus, though they are less likely to experience severe symptoms. The CDC recommends that people who have been vaccinated continue to take precautions such as wearing a mask and social distancing to prevent the spread of BA.2.75.2. It is still unclear exactly how long immunity from the Covid-19 vaccine will last, or if there will be a need for booster shots to maintain immunity against new strains. However, the CDC recommends that people who have been vaccinated continue to take precautions such as wearing a mask and social distancing to prevent the spread of the virus. With continued research and vigilance, we can hopefully bring an end to this pandemic soon. Immune evasion is a serious concern when it comes to treating and preventing Covid-19 infections. The current vaccine is still effective in preventing infection, but may not protect against the new strain. During this time and with a more transmissible strain going around, a great way to help stop the spread, would be to get tested regularly. Premium Health offers easily accessible and quick testing for Covid-19.
Omicron strains continue to mutate quicker than all other variants which is why it has lasted throughout the pandemic for so long. CBC News states that, “Omicron has outlasted all other variants because of its ability to rapidly mutate and partially escape immunity, explaining why new sub-variants have consistently emerged that have completely eclipsed other strains over the past year.” Due to this newly mutated strain, the Covid-19 vaccine effectiveness has dramatically decreased, even with the booster shot. The best course of action from the people would be to get their Covid-19 booster vaccine in order to have higher protection levels against the new Omicron sub-variant, all while taking necessary precautions such as getting tested and wearing masks, etc.
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