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Conflicting Study on Omicron as Oregon Research Says Infections May Lead to ‘Super Immunity’

There appears to be conflicting research finding on the Omicron COVID-19 as a survey conducted by researchers at Oregon Health & Science University has found that infections in people who

There appears to be conflicting research finding on the Omicron COVID-19 as a survey conducted by researchers at Oregon Health & Science University has found that infections in people who had been vaccinated, “greatly enhance immune response to variants of the virus.”

The summary of the research findings obtained on the website of US-based Newsweek magazine on Monday, stated that a breakthrough infection, “generates a robust immune response against the delta variant.”

The researchers also believed that the immune responses from breakthrough infections caused by other variants, such as Omicron, would be similar.

The findings were at variance with that of the Imperial College London, which held that Omicron variant largely evades immunity from past infection or two vaccine doses.

The report (Report 49), from the Imperial College London COVID-19 response team had also estimated that the risk of reinfection with the Omicron variant was 5.4 times greater than that of the Delta variant.

However, the study by researchers at Oregon Health & Science University discovered that antibodies in blood samples of those who experienced breakthrough cases were as much as 1,000 percent more effective than those generated two weeks after the second dose of a Pfizer vaccine.

“You can’t get a better immune response than this,” a senior author of the study and an assistant professor of molecular microbiology and immunology in the Oregon Health & Science University School of Medicine, Fikadu Tafesse said.

“These vaccines are very effective against severe disease. Our study suggests that individuals who are vaccinated and then exposed to a breakthrough infection have super immunity,” Tafesse added in a statement.

The findings could show, “an eventual end game” for the pandemic,” a co-author of the study and associate professor of infectious diseases at the school, Marcel Curlin added.

He added: “It doesn’t mean we’re at the end of the pandemic, but it points to where we’re likely to land: Once you’re vaccinated and then exposed to the virus, you’re probably going to be reasonably well-protected from future variants.”

“Our study implies that the long-term outcome is going to be a tapering-off of the severity of the worldwide epidemic,” he said.

Researchers did not specifically examine the Omicron variant, which was first detected in South Africa in November and is now circulating throughout the US.

But Tafesse said they, “would anticipate that breakthrough infections from the omicron variant will generate a similarly strong immune response among vaccinated people.”

Scientists are still tracking the new variant, but a South African study on Omicron published recently found that it appeared to be more resistant to vaccines, while causing less severe illness than the Delta variant.

The study compared COVID-19 immune response in blood samples from 52 people—all employees of the university.

Of those people, 26 had experienced mild breakthrough infections after they were vaccinated. Researchers say the study shows getting vaccinated is a crucial step to ending the pandemic.

“The key is to get vaccinated,” Curlin said. “You’ve got to have a foundation of protection.”

But amid concerns about the rapidly spreading omicron, the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in the United States and White House Chief Medical Adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci has described the booster jabs as the tool to fight the spread of omicron.

“Our booster vaccine regiments work against omicron,” US-based ABC News quoted him to have said.

“At this point, there is no need for a variant-specific booster,” he added. While a specific booster was not needed, booster shots, in general, have been shown to greatly restore antibody levels in the fight against omicron, he added.