Bulgarian professor: Endless vaccination with the same vaccine is not a good idea
If the evolution of the current coronavirus continues to a variant with low pathogenicity and high infectivity, we can hope that the epidemic will end. This was stated in an interview with BNR by Prof. Dr. Soren Hayrabedyan from the Institute of Biology and Immunology of Reproduction at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.
Omicron is indeed milder, but considering that sooner or later it will infect almost everyone, even if you boost now, in 3-4 months it will infect most people, the absolute number of infected who are susceptible will be very large, therefore, risk groups must be protected, Hayrabedyan said.
Patients' immune status is not the same. Vaccines target the first variant of the virus. In some patients, the immunity may be weaker, and over time the immunity fades. Therefore, some people at risk may be immunocompromised and hospitalized, even vaccinated people. These are the groups that should consider a booster dose, explained the specialist. The rest, he said, can expect a smoother course of Omicron.
Omicron has a 5-6 times easier course. Mortality is 10 times lower, but 70 times more contagious. At the moment, both variants are available: Delta and Omicron and this is not good - there is no way to know what we will get infected with, added Soren Hayrabedyan.
The double vaccine had to protect from Delta for at least 4-6 months, with Omicron the protection drops to 3 months. The booster restores the effectiveness of the vaccine by 20% and the protection is raised, said Prof. Hayrabedyan.
Between 20% and 40% of covid reinfections with the Omicron variant have been reported in post-ill patients. This is because the protein with which the virus enters the cell has mutated a lot.
40-50% of people will not develop antibodies for Delta and/or Omicron, said Prof. Soren Hayrabedyan.
“It's typical of these colds that we have every year. It’s the colds that were doing the killing, so it became such a problem.”
Omicron largely avoids the antibody response. Neutralizing response to the old variants is usually tested, but these tests are not adequate for Omicron, Hayrabedyan said.
Asked about frequent boosters and problems with the immune response, Prof. Hayrabedyan said:
“It is believed that one booster, and a maximum of another one, allow the immune system to make new branches of antibodies. Infinite immunization with the same antigen is not considered meaningful, as the immune system has a certain capacity for how many clones it can develop. (…) There should not be an infinite number of vaccinations with the same vaccine.”
Prof. Soren Hayrabedyan cites a new scientific publication in the journal Nature, according to which there are spots on the virus, on the protein with which it enters our cells, which can be blocked by our antibodies against other similar viruses from similar families.
“The virus has about 140 sites on the structure that binds to our cell. If these 140 sites are constantly mutating, and if we have to exhaust all possible mutations and make vaccines against them, that means endless vaccination. However, some of these sites, if they do not mutate, will not be able to bind to the cell at all and will no longer be able to infect us. The idea is to block such sites that have a low chance of mutating, but at the same time similar to the virus and other similar families of viruses. It turns out that they have cross-antibodies, for example, you have antibodies against another family of coronaviruses or even a more distant family from the same group. These antibodies can block Omicron, and on that basis, they plan to use similar structures to make a vaccine that is universal so that it blocks the whole family.”
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