Omicron BA.5 vs. Vaccines and Previous Infection

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    In this video, Dr. Seheult of MedCram discusses all the types of immunity someone could have against the latest subvariant BA.4/5. This latest study from Science details whether there is antibody activity against the Omicron variants.  The study assessed the plasma neutralizing activity found in humans from each of the seven vaccines that are available (Moderna, Pfizer, Novavax, J&J, Astra Zeneca, Sputnik V, Sinopharm) or natural SARS-CoV-2 infection. It looked at the ability of the subvariants to evade the immune system.  Essentially, this study was an in-vitro experiment to see how well antibodies from individuals could protect against the various variants of SARS-CoV-2.

    Results of the study

    The study shows that, in general, across all the vaccines and natural infections, there is seen less of a neutralizing antibody response to the current subvariant BA.4/5. However, it must be noted that there was some activity nonetheless. For Moderna, compared to the original SARS-CoV-2 infection there was about a 29-fold reduction in the ability to neutralize the antibody and with Pfizer, it was 18-fold. However, it is important to remember that the antibody response is not the only response that exists after getting vaccinated or having a natural infection. There is also a T-cell immune response that is capable of crossing over and managing acute infections. 

    This study used a surrogate for antibody neutralization and didn’t evaluate how the T-cells would function in an acute infection. Overall, the study shows there is still good efficacy of the vaccines to prevent severe outcomes and hospitalization even if they are not preventing infections. It is important to note that as cases of COVID-19 increase, so will hospitalization numbers; however, unlike at the beginning of the pandemic, we are currently seeing asymptomatic cases being admitted to the hospital for other causes. Due to hospital screening of every patient that is admitted, there are multiple cases of asymptomatic patients being found.  When analyzing hospitalizations from Covid-19, it is important to ask whether people are being hospitalized with or due to SARS-CoV-2. Today, in Dr. Seheult’s personal experience he is seeing many asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 positive individuals being admitted to the hospital for other causes. 

    What about boosters?

    So besides vaccination, what about the boosters? The first part of this study reviewed only vaccinated individuals that had not been boosted. It did do a subanalysis on individuals who had gotten boosted to ask the question, “Is it still worth getting a booster shot against the original SARS-CoV-2 infection?” The study saw that with a booster or third shot of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, there was an improvement in neutralizing antibodies against BA.4/5 variant.  Novavax, Johnson and Johnson, Astra Zeneca, Sputnik, and Sinopharm vaccinated individuals that got a booster also were noted to have a significant increase in neutralizing antibodies.

    Basis behind vaccines

    Vaccines provide the immune system with the ability to have memory cells and ramp up an antibody response more quickly than someone who has a new and never before seen infection which will take more time for the immune system to ramp up. 

    Immune system boosting strategies

    MedCram has talked extensively about immune-boosting strategies such as getting out in the sun, getting enough sleep, exposing your eyes to bright light in the morning to keep your circadian rhythm in check, and doing hydrotherapy to name a few.  These things can improve your overall health. MedCram has also done several videos detailing the science and rationale behind each one as can be seen in MedCram videos 46, 47, 132.  People who have been infected with SARS-CoV-2 infections have a more heterogeneous response in their immune system depending on how much of a “viral dose” they received.  According to Dr. Shane Crotty, there can be a 100-fold range in the amount of neutralizing antibodies seen when looking at an individual person’s response compared to an individual that received a standardized dose of vaccine.  The study concluded that vaccine boosters may provide sufficient protection against Omicron-induced severe disease. For further information on which booster may be right for you, watch MedCram update 135


    Omicron spike function and neutralizing activity elicited by a comprehensive panel of vaccines (Science) |…

    COVID Variants vs. Coronavirus Vaccines (MedCram) |

    COVID 19 Vaccine Deep Dive: Safety, Immunity, RNA Production (MedCram) |

    All coronavirus updates are at (including more discussion on delta variant covid, COVID Delta, COVID children, natural immunity COVID 19, and more).

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    MedCram Update 135:

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