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NS omicron According to the inventor of one of the first COVID-19 vaccines, people vaccinated with the type of coronavirus may cause more infections, but they will be protected from a severe course of the disease.

whereas new version Ugur Sahin, co-founder of BioNTech SE, said that while the antibodies produced in response to the vaccine may escape, the virus will likely remain vulnerable to immune cells that destroy it once it enters the body.

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“Our message is: don’t panic, the plan remains the same: expedite the administration of the third booster shot,” Dr. Sahin said in an interview on Tuesday.

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Based on current knowledge about the mechanisms behind the vaccine and the biology of the variants, Dr. Sahin said he believed that immunized people would have a high degree of protection against serious disease even if they were infected with the Omicron variant.

Dr. Sahin said that the vaccine, which he and his team invented in January 2020 and then developed together pfizer Inc., has been proven to protect against serious illness against other types of coronaviruses that infect vaccinated people.

Dr. Sahin said the currently prevalent variant, delta, has proven to be more efficient in infecting vaccinated people than earlier variants, but those people mostly experience only mild symptoms.

The vaccine developed by BioNTech and Pfizer, like most other vaccines, provides two different layers of protection against the virus.

The first contains antibodies, which prevent people from becoming infected in the first place by stopping the virus from colonizing healthy cells in the body.

However, according to studies, the antibodies begin to decline about five months after the second dose of vaccination. Because of the higher number of mutations, Omicron is likely to be better at bypassing antibodies generated after exposure to the vaccine than Delta, Dr. Sahin said.

The second layer of protection includes T-cells, immune cells in the body that mobilize after infection to destroy infected cells.

A vaccinated person who becomes infected will usually experience mild symptoms. Dr. Sahin said that none of the T-cell immune responses had been detected so far, and that even the micron was unlikely to elicit what is known as immune escape in that respect.

“Our Faith” [that the vaccines work against omicron] The science lies in this: If a virus evades immunity, it acquires antibodies against it, but there is another level of immune response that protects against severe disease — T-cells,” he said.

“Even as an escape variant, the virus would hardly be able to completely exit T-cells.”

Dr. Sahin’s remarks came after Moderna Inc Chief Executive Stephen Bansell told the Financial Times that he expected existing COVID-19 vaccines to be less effective in tackling the Omicron variant.

The BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine was originally administered in two shots, but has been introduced in recent months by several countries, including the US. a third offerStudies, after the so-called booster shot, showed that people who received three doses had significantly stronger immunity.

Dr. Sahin welcomed this week’s decision by UK authorities to offer all adults a third dose three months after receiving a second dose.

“The UK firmly believes that the third shot provides even better protection, and that is why it brings it forward,” said Dr. Sahin.

He said, “What do we mean by protection in this case? We mean protection against serious disease and we believe that vaccinated people have a high level of protection against serious disease, which increases significantly when they receive the third dose. ”

Dr. Sahin said that his company is now conducting laboratory tests to see if the Omicron variant can infect people who were vaccinated. The tests, which began last week and take about two weeks to produce results, will not show whether Omicron causes serious illness; This can only be proved in real-life clinical practice, he said.

Dr. Sahin estimated that it would take about 100 days to bring an adjusted vaccine to market specifically targeting Omicron, but said this may not be necessary.

“We have a plan to give people a third shot, and we must stick to that plan and accelerate it. Whether or not we will need additional protection by a customized vaccine remains to be seen later,” Dr. Said Sahin.

He said it was too early to say whether the population would need to be vaccinated regularly for the foreseeable future to maintain a high level of immunity.

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Dr Sahin said countries such as Germany which are currently facing a surge in infection figures may need to impose restrictions in addition to accelerating the booster programme.

He said, “Some measures can push the infection figures down relatively quickly… I am in favor of effective measures in the current situation.”

This article first appeared in the Wall Street Journal