Expert virologist answers 9 of your most pressing omicron questions

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To help answer questions about the situation we now face, the latest COVID variant omicron cases in the UK, an expert in virology organized the Ask Me Anything event Granthshala,

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Dr Stephen Griffin, a virologist at the University of Leeds, answers live questions on this article for those who are registered Granthshala,

Griffin spent time addressing new types of risk, how we can better protect ourselves, how positive the future looks for the situation in the UK and whether we will be dealing with a never-ending list of COVID variants in the years to come. ready to meet. ,

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Here we’ve compiled nine Dr. Griffin’s answers to your questions, putting the latest expert information at your fingertips:

Question – Chrisv27

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Hi, I wanted to see you in another response saying “Immunity built up after [previous infection] Certainly doesn’t protect well against Omicron … or Delta for that matter.” I assumed it was as effective as vaccine-borne immunity.

Given that most immunity in South Africa is from prior infection and not vaccination, can we expect Omicron SA to spread less rapidly in the well-vaccinated UK than in the UK? The rate of growth there seems to be quite astonishing.

Answer – Dr. Griffin

I agree, it’s definitely shocking. The response to infection is unpredictable. It also happens to be more comprehensive (incorporating additional ingredients from Spike, as you’d expect) but not generally potent, certainly compared to 3 doses. Frankly, the notion that some people push where they support getting infected… to be immune to something they don’t want to be infected with, is irresponsible and even irresponsible Is. Whether intentionally or not, this is happening in children right now and I think it is shocking. The entire premise of vaccines is to develop immunity in the safest way possible. We have fantastically effective tools to do this, I would strongly caution against anyone not getting the vaccine, and also strongly support vaccines in 5+ for this reason.

This is to be expected, and we should find out soon whether a higher VAX rate will slow or stop Omicron, or whether it can actually compete with Delta in such a setting… – when Omicron is installed So, having Rt1 (as we did for Delta) across the country, clearly, crackers…

Question – JT203

If a new virus (or mutated covid) comes along with a mortality rate of 30% or something, will it have less chance of a pandemic because it will kill people faster than it can infect new people? Is COVID on a ‘sweet spot’ as it is transmitted but leaves enough people alive to spread it?

Answer – Dr. Griffin

The key here is to kill before infecting more people – viruses are the ultimate “selfish” gene. They don’t care if they make us sick, so the key here is that COVID becomes fatal/severe after the infected person is contagious (including symptoms) and moves to new pastures. If the first SARS were able to spread before symptoms (it was to an extent, but nothing like SARS2), and it was also more permeable (the SARS2 spike binds to ACE2 much better, and also the furin cleavage site of infection) increases the rate) we would have had a worse problem. So, yes, SARS2 is dangerous mainly due to the combination of high transmission before being fatal via aerosol and lack of symptoms.

This is why the assumption that the virus is benign over time is wrong. We change, not the virus, it’s a race between the evolution of the virus and our immunity that eventually culminates in a kind of equilibrium where Rt~1, what we call endemic…. Smallpox, polio…endemic infection! Measles causes serious illness when vaccine coverage drops, which is why Wakefield’s chatter about autism was so damning. Vaccines could accelerate progress toward endemic…

Question 2 – JT203

Hi Dr. Given that, as we have just seen, new types can occur and spread even in highly vaccinated populations, how does an epidemic end? Surely we’ll be playing catchup forever, regardless of boosters?

Answer – Dr. Griffin

Hi JT203. Well, to me, there is a difference in relying on vaccines in isolation while the pandemic is going on compared to when things are better under control.

I favor the “Swiss cheese” model (Ian McKay) of controlling SARS-CoV2 (or indeed, any respiratory virus outbreak) as vaccines complemented by mitigation. Otherwise, what we end up with is cyclical lockdown/unlocking as we try to keep up with the virus…

My personal view is that with the spring lockdown in 2021 to get things under control, we should have maintained adequate mitigation while we vaccinated as many people as possible, including children. It doesn’t mean more lockdown, it’s a bit like extinguishing the fire by flooding the ground than fighting to put out the fire. New outbreaks are much easier to control if you’re starting with a low level of infection, especially in a highly vaccinated population.

Now, it is important to emphasize that it will be okay to avoid more lockdowns – like the fire analogy, if you turn your back when the fire is still smoldering, it will inevitably come back . Lockdowns are extreme measures, the fact is that we need three points for policy failure in our view, and this leaves us at a loss with fewer options going forward…

This is not necessarily “elimination” (though it would be ideal to aim for IMO) where there is no community spread, but instead a very low level of endemic infection where our immunity outweighs the virus’s ability to mutate. and rt is always ~1…very much like measles.

Question – English and Proud6621

Hi Dr. Steve,

Can you confirm or deny that pharmaceutical companies fund vaccine research and lobby/donate to the government to create favorable policies for them? Many feel this is an important topic because it clearly creates a conflict of interest.

Best wishes,

ep

Answer – Dr. Griffin

Hi EP.

Not to my knowledge. Vaccines were procured through the Vaccine Task Force, independent of the government. MHRA and JCVI are also independent bodies. Clearly the need for vaccines is driven by public health. Companies need to submit huge amounts of data to get approval from MHRA – this was done through the EUA to expedite things in terms of red tape, but it is being completed in due course, For example, the FDA gave Pfizer full approval.

We must remember that AZ is supplying its vaccines at cost, but pharma companies are obliged to recoup their investment and, in fact, to make a profit in response to their shareholders. The same will happen if we rely on pharma companies to make and test drugs.

Question – Starbust 1953

We have heard that Omicron produces mild effects in the cases mentioned so far. Looks like they are in the younger age group. People with triple doses of the vaccine are also being found positive. Are there any results showing the effect of Omicron in the elderly?

Answer – Dr. Griffin

This is a tricky one because you don’t necessarily see a lot of serious illness, because there’s always a time lag between the onset of infection, hospitalization and then sadly, deaths… Guateng and elsewhere But hospitalizations begin in South Africa. The age distribution of the population in South Africa is also different (usually slightly younger than average) and older people are more likely to be protected by vaccines. There is probably also a difference in vaccination rates between more/less affluent areas.

We must remember that most SARS cases are “mild” (i.e. lack hospitalization, yet unpleasant and can cause prolonged COVID), so again, a lag between seeing more severe cases Will… but they are definitely starting to grow I’m afraid…

Question – Doralora

Who is at greatest risk for the Omicron strain of coronavirus? High infectivity or the ability to mutate into something more lethal.

Answer – Dr. Griffin

Hi. It’s probably just as deadly as the first. There may well be increased transmittance compared to delta, but we need more data to be sure. Immune evasion is probably of greater concern because it means that the proportion of susceptible people…

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Credit: www.independent.co.uk /

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