Study Explains Why Covid Is Still Causing Mayhem

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The early vaccination success suggested that “living with the virus” would be considerably easier, but the battle is far from done as reported by The Guardian.

Various disruptions 

We are all so very tired of Covid-19, and there are many other crises to wrestle with.

Many have been rather unwell and off work or school, with the associated disruptions to education, healthcare and other vital services.

These infections will also inevitably add to the toll of long Covid cases.

According to ONS data, the supposedly “mild” waves of Omicron during 2022 have brought more than 619,000 new long Covid cases into the clinical caseload, promising an enduring and miserable legacy from this latest phase.

The latest scientific research has some answers.

Stealth virus 

During May and June two new variants, BA.4 and BA.5, progressively displaced the previous Omicron subvariant, BA.2.

They are even more transmissible and more immune-evasive.

Last week a group of collaborators, including me and a professor of immunology and respiratory medicine, Rosemary Boyton, published a paper in Science, looking comprehensively at immunity to the Omicron family, both in triple-vaccinated people and also in those who then suffered breakthrough infections during the Omicron wave.

This lets us examine whether Omicron was, as some hoped, a benign natural booster of our Covid immunity.

It is a kind of stealth virus that gets in under the radar without doing too much to alert immune defences.

Even having had Omicron, we’re not well protected from further infections.

Evolutionary relationship

Contrary to the myth that we are sliding into a comfortable evolutionary relationship with a common-cold-like, friendly virus, this is more like being trapped on a rollercoaster in a horror film.

While we now know that the risk of long Covid is somewhat reduced in those who become infected after vaccination, and also less in those from the Omicron than the Delta wave, the absolute numbers are nevertheless worrying.

They need answers, treatments – and to know that we take the situation sufficiently seriously to stop creating more cases.

A study reported in the BMJ last week showed us that the protection gained from a fourth booster dose likely wanes even faster than previous boosters.

This leaves us between a rock and a hard place: continue to offer suboptimal boosters to a population who seem to have lost faith or interest in taking them up, or do nothing and cross our fingers that residual immunity might somehow keep a lid on hospitalisations (as happened in South Africa and Portugal).

There is massive activity to develop second-generation vaccine options that might do better – including variant-specific vaccines or “pan-coronavirus” vaccines.

 

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Source: The Guardian 

 

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