Will the Omicron wave give us herd immunity?
There could be an advantage to going through a wave of COVID-19 cases as strong as the one experienced by Quebec at the moment, since the arrival of Omicron: it could lead to a collective immunity against this variant, and against the Delta variant.
According to a recent South African study, people infected with the Omicron variant have antibodies to counter the Delta strain. The same goes for re-infection with Omicron. Scientists analyzed the antibodies of around 30 patients who contracted Omicron. They found that infection with this strain increases the defense capacity against this same variant by 14 times.
Against Delta, the potential to “neutralize” increases by 4.4 times. In other words, being infected with Omicron “may cause Delta to be less able to re-infect,” it is said. & Nbsp;
The analysis by virologist Benoit Barbeau also goes in this direction. The specialist assesses that a person who contracts the Omicron variant will have their immune response “re-stimulated”, and even adapted to this variant.
This will protect you against a future infection of the Omicron variant, in addition to the fact that you have probably activated other components that were also present when you received your vaccine.
Benoit Barbeau, virologist
En route à l & rsquo; l & rsquo; collective immunity?
The immunity produced in a person infected with Omicron will certainly position them better against this variant, but also against some other variants, “without being 100%”, specifies the one who is also a professor at the Department of Biological Sciences of the & rsquo; UQAM.
This is part of the much sought-after idea of group protection. “With this variant, maybe that's kind of what will eventually trigger a progression towards more herd immunity. We cannot predict, but it is one of the possible directions. ”
This is also the trend with coronaviruses: to survive, they mutate into a disease in which the proportion of infection is reduced and whose symptoms are less severe. & nbsp; “The variants will be sufficiently neutralized so as not to create outbreaks of cases of infection and, above all, to prevent too many vulnerable people from being infected and hospitalized”, explains Mr. Barbeau./p>
In the past 24 hours, Quebec has recorded more than 16,000 new cases of COVID-19, an underestimated figure, according to Public Health.
While it is never desirable to be sick, even without having to be hospitalized, this high number of infections could prove positive for non-vulnerable vaccinated people.
Natural protection, less strong than that of the vaccine
However, it must be taken into account that other variants, more resistant to this “neutralization capacity”, could appear, and that the duration of protection decreases over time, however specifies Benoit Barbeau. & nbsp;
“Natural infection will not necessarily give markedly longer protection against infection than vaccines”, recalls- he.
This is why, like the World Health Organization (WHO), Mr. Barbeau affirms that it is necessary to ensure equitable distribution of vaccines through the planet. Otherwise, new variants will continue to appear.