PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — An international study, led by the University of Washington School of Medicine, shows booster shots with existing vaccines offset some omicron immune evasion tactics.
According to UW, the study suggests the current vaccine booster may elicit sufficient immune protection against severe omicron-induced COVID-19 disease — despite omicron subvariants of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic coronavirus evolving to evade antibody responses from the primary COVID-19 vaccine series.
The project evaluated a complete panel of seven vaccines available in the United States or in other parts of the world, as well as immunity obtained through previous infection.
“As the COVID-19 pandemic overstays its appearance on the world stage, genetic variants of the causative virus have emerged that are more transmissible, fitter, and more adept at avoiding infection-fighting strategies,” UW said in an announcement.
The university added the omicron variant has “greatly diverged” from the SARS-CoV-2 strain.
“It consists of several sublineages, including BA.5, which is predicted to soon dominate globally by replacing other variants,” they stated. “It is likely to become the most immune evasive SARS-CoV-2 variant to date.”
The findings were published Tuesday as an “Early Release paper in Science” because of their significance to the pandemic, UW said.
According to the press release, the results of the study show the ability of omicron BA.5 to bind with host cell receptors was more than 6 times stronger than the original COVID-19 coronavirus.
“The research team analyzed plasma samples from people who had been infected with COVID-19 before vaccines were available, as well as those who had completed only a primary vaccine series, and others who had been boosted with currently available vaccines,” the university explained.
In the project, the vaccines evaluated included Moderna, Pfizer, Novavax, Jannsen, AstraZeneca, Sinopharm and Sputnik V.
UW noted the marked improvement in omicron neutralizing activity in the plasma of boosted individuals highlighting the importance of vaccine boosters in improving the potency of antibody responses against the Omicron strains.