A small South African study released Tuesday shows that Omicron infection may enhance immunity against the Delta variant of the coronavirus.
The research, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, initially examined 15 people, some vaccinated and others not, who were infected with Omicron.
The scientists then took samples to see if those people would be able to neutralize Omicron and Delta 14 days later. Two cases were excluded from the study at this stage due to a lack of ability to neutralize Omicron at either the start or end of the research.
“The increase in Delta variant neutralization in individuals infected with Omicron may result in decreased ability of Delta to re-infect those individuals,” the scientists who conducted the study said.
The results of the study are “consistent with Omicron displacing the Delta variant, since it can elicit immunity which neutralizes Delta making re-infection with Delta less likely,” they said.
According to the scientists, implications of this displacement would depend on whether or not Omicron is less pathogenic compared to Delta. “If so, then the incidence of COVID-19 severe disease would be reduced and the infection may shift to become less disruptive to individuals and society.”
Alex Sigal, a professor at the Africa Health Research Institute in South Africa, said on Twitter on Monday that if Omicron was less pathogenic as it looked to be from the South African experience, “this will help push Delta out”.
According to an earlier South African study, there is reduced risk of hospitalisation and severe disease in people infected with Omicron compared with the Delta variant, though the authors say some of that is likely due to high population immunity.
The Omicron variant, first detected in southern Africa and Hong Kong in November, has since spread worldwide
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: TIMES OF ISRAEL
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