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Does your Covid vaccine protect you against the new 'Omicron' variant?

29 November 2021 8:45 AM
Tags:
Omicron
Covid-19 Omicron variant

Africa Melane speaks to the University of Cape Town's Dr Ben Kagina about the Omicron (B.1.1.529): SARS-CoV-2 variant.

- The latest Covid-19 strain Omicron was identified by scientists in South Africa earlier this month

- The WHO says it is not yet clear if Omicron is more transmissible or if it causes more severe illness compared to other variants


Image: © seventyfour74/123rf.com

Researchers in South Africa and around the world say they'll have a better idea in a couple of weeks about the nature of the recently discovered 'Omicron' Covid variant.

Scientists here revealed the discovery of the latest variant of coronavirus last week and are conducting studies to better understand it.

They say it is not yet clear if it is more transmissible or if it causes more severe illness compared to infections with other variants, including Delta.

They are mutations that are consigning, particularly mutations that have been picked up on the spike protein.

Dr Ben Kagina, Senior Research Officer at the Vaccines for Africa Initiative - University of Cape Town

What this means, says Kagina, is that the new variant may have mutations that could help it evade antibodies produced by the body's immune system:

A spike protein is one of the components that vaccine developers have identified as crucial to help out bodies fight against this virus.

Dr Ben Kagina, Senior Research Officer at the Vaccines for Africa Initiative - University of Cape Town

Kagina says most vaccines have used the spike protein as a component to constitute a vaccine:

If you've got mutations on that protein, there's a theoretical risk that the immunity induced by the vaccine may not be as good at protecting us.

Dr Ben Kagina, Senior Research Officer at the Vaccines for Africa Initiative - University of Cape Town

Can we say for sure, at this stage, whether the virus is resistant to the vaccines South Africans have been receiving or whether Omicron is more transmissible or leads to more severe illness?

More time is needed for scientists to be able to answer those questions.

Dr Ben Kagina, Senior Research Officer at the Vaccines for Africa Initiative - University of Cape Town

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29 November 2021 8:45 AM
Tags:
Omicron
Covid-19 Omicron variant

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