New Covid-19 variants dodge immunity

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Several earlier studies found natural immunity alone was more effective in neutralizing the Delta variant of the coronavirus than vaccine-derived immunity

Several new strains of the SARS-CoV-2 virus can evade both vaccine-derived and infection-derived immunity.

Several new variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus are capable of evading both vaccine- and infection-derived immunity, according to a study spearheaded by the director of the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center at Columbia University and reviewed by Time magazine this week.

The institute’s director, David Ho, called for vaccines against the new, increasingly common, strains before it is too late to tackle their potential spread.

The new Covid variants, including BQ.1, BQ.1.1, XBB, and XBB.1, evolved from Omicron. Like their progenitor, they have mutations in the region of the virus that binds to cells that make them extremely transmissible. Unlike Omicron, no variant-specific vaccine exists to target them.

Ho’s study, which has not been published or peer reviewed, found that patients who received the two initial mRNA vaccines plus a booster had 37- and 55-fold lower immune neutralization against BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 than they did against the strain of the virus they were inoculated against, and 70-fold lower neutralization against XBB and XBB.1. Those with two original booster shots fared worse against BQ.1 and BQ.1.1, and exponentially worse against XBB and XBB.1.

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