Omicron Infection May Protect Against Delta COVID Variant: Study

The Omicron COVID variant is said to be more transmissible but milder than the Delta variant

Shubhangi Shah
Written by: Shubhangi ShahPublished at: Dec 29, 2021Updated at: Dec 29, 2021
Omicron Infection May Protect Against Delta COVID Variant: Study

Countries across the world, including India, the United States, the United Kingdom, etc, were badly battered by the Delta variant of the novel coronavirus, or SARS-CoV-2. Following a massive surge, when nations were getting some respite from it, another variant, dubbed as Omicron, made an appearance. This heavily mutated variant is more transmissible than any other COVID variant, preliminary data suggests. This simply means that this new ‘variant of concern’ is highly effective in infecting people, a cause for major concern. Providing a glimmer of hope, a study conducted in South Africa, where the variant was first detected, has shown that getting infected by Omicron may protect you against Delta, several media houses reported.

Omicron May Protect From Delta Infection: Study

Omicron COVID variant is more transmissible than Delta

(Photo Credit: Pixabay)

This small-scale study was undertaken in South Africa. Here are the study findings:

  • In those infected with the Omicron COVID variant, their immune system can ward off the virulent Delta variant.
  • In fact, the immune response following Omicron infection was such that protection against Delta increased fourfold.
  • Not only that, the researchers saw a fourteenfold rise in protection against Omicron reinfection.
  • This could mean that Omicron might replace Delta in the coming days, the team of scientists at the Africa Health Research Institute noted. 
  • And if the preliminary findings that Omicron causes mild disease as compared to other variants are further corroborated, it could mean that the incidence of severe COVID infection will decrease. Also, the viral disease will become less disruptive to society, the scientists further noted.

However, it should be noted that scientists aren’t clear about the reason behind Omicron blocking Delta infection or further re-infection with the same strain. They are unclear whether the incidence they noted was because of:

  • The immune response triggered by Omicron.
  • Vaccination
  • Or, the previous infection

About South Africa Study On Omicron Variant

Omicron COVID variant is milder than Delta

(Photo Credit: Pixabay)

The study led by Khadija Khan from the Africa Health Research Institute noted is yet to be peer-reviewed.

  • There were 13 participants involved in the study.
  • 11 out of the 13 participants were infected with the Omicron COVID strain.
  • Seven of the 13 participants of vaccinated.
  • Out of those seven, three had received two shots of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID vaccine and four had received Johnson & Johnson’s shot.

Ever since the Omicron variant was identified, scientists across nations are researching to know the characteristics of the newest variant. This will help in taking precautionary measures to ward off infection.

Also read: Covid-19: Experts Warn Against Trendy Cloth Masks, Of No Use With Omicron Variant

What We Know About The Omicron COVID Variant So Far

The B.1.1.529 strain of SARS-CoV-2 was first identified in November in the African nations of South Africa and Botswana. The former swiftly reported it to the World Health Organisation (WHO), which classified it as a ‘variant of concern’ on November 26, and assigned it the Greek alphabet ‘Omicron’.

  • Omicron is said to be the most mutated version of the novel coronavirus, with at least 50 mutations in the spike protein, which is the part that the virus uses to latch on to the human cell.
  • It is also said to be highly transmissible, several times more than the highly virulent Delta variant, which drove the ferocious second wave in India.
  • Not only that, the variant has been able to evade the immune response generated by multiple COVID vaccines, including those developed by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and AstraZeneca. However, booster shots of all these vaccines have been effective in warding off the variant.
  • Although highly transmissible, Omicron causes less severe disease, multiple preliminary studies have shown. An analysis by the UK Health Security Agency found that those infected with Omicron were about 50-70% less likely to be hospitalised than those infected with Delta. Similarly, researchers in South Africa found that the incidence of severe disease caused by Omicron was 70% less than that by Delta.

However, it is to be noted that these are based on preliminary findings and a lot is still not known about the variant. Hence, it’s better to stay cautious. And if the experience of the US and UK has shown us that the variant is capable enough to drive massive surges in COVID cases. Both these countries are logging a record number of COVID cases daily. Omicron has already become the dominant strain in the US and has infected a huge number of people in the UK.

Photo Credit: Pixabay