Several new strains of the SARS-CoV-2 virus can evade both vaccine-derived and infection-derived immunity
© Getty Images / bymuratdeniz
Several increasingly common 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 reviewed by Time magazine this week. The institute’s director, David Ho, called for researchers to start developing vaccines against the new strains now in the hope that the variants will still be circulating by the time they hit the market.
The new 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 targeting 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 of the original booster shots fared even worse against BQ.1 and BQ.1.1, and exponentially worse against XBB and XBB.1.