Will an omicron-specific vaccine help control COVID? There’s one key problem


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Last November, Australians began to feel the optimistic wave that COVID no longer defines their daily lives.

The surge in vaccination rates provided some confidence that the threat from COVID was beginning to recede.

But by mid-December, this wave of hope was wiped out by the surge in Omicron infections.

New research Only about 20% protection from Omicron infection Four months after two doses of AstraZeneca, Pfizer, or Moderna (although they are much more protective against hospitalization and death, and booster immunization improves protection). infectionBut probably short-term).

Both since the advent of Omicron Pfizer When Modana Has announced that it is working on a vaccine that specifically targets mutants, with production promised as early as March of this year.

So is a variant-specific vaccine a way to regain control of COVID?

Vaccines targeting Omicron are with individuals Population level..

However, variant-specific vaccines are ultimately reactive means and can always leave eight balls. By the time a variant-specific vaccine is deployed, the wave of infection caused by that variant may have already peaked and new variants may be underway.

The solution to this problem could be a “variant proof” vaccine, also known as a “universal” COVID vaccine. These are vaccines that work across different variants rather than targeting a specific variant. These are under development and may be a preventative measure to prevent the establishment of new variants.

Variant-specific vaccines can take too long to deploy

Scientists have no doubt that vaccination with an Omicron-specific vaccine enhances immunity to Omicron.

Approval of these new vaccines is similar to previously approved vaccines and should be done relatively quickly, but requires additional safety and efficacy data.

However, the question remains whether the deployment of these new vaccines will necessarily benefit Australian society.

After approval of the COVID vaccine in Australia 9 months to vaccinate 70% of the adult population.. In contrast, Australian Omicron cases peaked in less than two months.

There is Plan to develop local manufacturing facility by 2024, Australia does not yet have the capacity to mass produce mRNA vaccines (such as Pfizer and Modana). Therefore, the deployment of these vaccines is expected to begin significantly later than in other countries.

Active reliance on the development of variant-specific vaccines, even under ideal production and distribution systems, keeps Australia vulnerable to a wave of devastating infections and continues to health strategies. Brings new challenges.

The new subspecies wave will swallow the population faster than ever subspecies-specific vaccines have been deployed.

Outbreaks are unlikely to protect from future variants

Health officials predict Almost all Australians You will soon be exposed to Omicron.

This raises many questions as to whether high-dose exposure can ultimately provide Australians with the antibody protection needed for the legendary “herd immunity” and eliminate the need for future mutant-specific vaccines. I left it.

A Small preprint surveyAlthough not yet reviewed by other scientists, infection with Omicron produced several antibodies capable of neutralizing the delta, but about one-quarter of those produced against infectious variants. It suggests that it is only large.

Whether these antibodies are sufficient to protect against infection from deltas or other mutants has not yet been established.

Most antibodies induced by vaccination and natural infections primarily target areas of the virus that can easily mutate.

The following variants that emerge in this area may be even different from Delta and Omicron. This means that the current antibody response induced by infection or by a vaccine specific to either the original virus or the Omicron variant can be avoided.

Therefore, outbreaks by Omicron may not protect us from catching future variants.

Here comes the variant proof vaccine

Several teams around Australia And the world is now working on an effort to produce a “universal” COVID vaccine, including our own research team at the Garvan Institute.

These are vaccines that produce antibodies against areas of the virus that cannot be easily mutated.

The purpose of using such vaccines throughout the population is to protect us not only from current variants of the virus, but also from future variants.

Universal, unlike current response strategies to generate mutant-specific vaccines following the emergence of new invasive threats vaccination It can be used to prevent new variants from settling.

Australia should aim to produce such vaccines locally to avoid current supply and distribution delays.

Australia “continues to ride Omicron Waves “. Mutant Pose for us.

Pfizer Booster protects over 50% against Omicron

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