The omicron mutant spreads so quickly that one sometimes feels as if resistance is futile. It is frustrating to hear news that people who received the vaccine and a booster dose have contracted Omicron infection, despite their commitment to wearing appropriate protective masks outside the home, according to a report published by the “Live Mint” website, and reported by Al Arabiya Net.
It is known and scientifically proven that COVID-19 vaccines work powerfully and provide protection even against the omicron mutant.
But in other cases, the effect of vaccines is weaker. The secret to this situation lies in the amazing diversity of the human immune system, which is regulated in part by some of the most diverse genes in the human body.
Protection for 4 out of 5 vaccinated
A recent study, led by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), to be published in the scientific journal Cell, showed that about 20% of those who have already been vaccinated get much less immunity against the omicron mutant, but are considered to be better off. of completely unvaccinated people, and the discrepancy could explain why some people, who were fully vaccinated, became infected and worsened until they were hospitalized during an omicron variable wave.
The researchers analyzed blood samples from 76 volunteers to check for a part of the immune system known as T cells. While antibodies diminish over time, T cells last longer and provide a second line of defense by identifying and killing infected cells. The T cells in people who get the shots are primed to fight the SARS-CoV-2 virus and can usually clear the infection within two days. It is considered by many experts as the most important part of the human body’s defenses against the omicron variant.
The researchers took volunteer T cells and put them against different types of SARS-CoV-2 virus in test tube experiments. And it turned out that four out of every five people, the vaccination resulted in T cells that easily eliminate the infection of the Omicron variant, and it also succeeded in eliminating the previous variants of the Corona virus. But in one in five people, the vaccine “induced” T cells were less effective at eliminating the omicron variant, even though they coped well against the original variants.
These results do not mean that vaccines are useless against the omicron variant, as some vaccine skeptics have argued. Vaccines are even a good solution, because 80% of those who get them are well protected. The booster doses are also important, according to the results of the study, as it was proven that they improved everyone’s ability to resist the virus, but the response was not equal.
The exact number can vary in a larger or more diverse sample of volunteers, but the constant is that there is a certain level of variance in the human immune system, because T cells They take a slightly different form in each person’s body, so the interaction of vaccine proteins with each person’s genetics varies.
HLA . proteins
Professor Gaiha explained that when the cells of the human body encounter the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, either through an infection or a vaccine, they spot bits of the viral protein outside; And then you stimulate the immune system to fight the virus. This process relies on proteins called HLA, whose coding varies from person to person depending on the genetics, – these are the same genes that must be similar between organ donors and recipients to avoid rejection of the new organ by the recipient’s body.
Professor Gaiha added that each person’s HLA proteins will have a different reaction against an infection or a vaccine, in terms of sticking to different fragments of the spike protein of the virus. In other words, the ways to stimulate the immune system against infection vary from person to person, both against infection and when receiving a vaccine.
The omicron spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus is also different from the spike protein of the original virus that vaccines are designed to target and fight, which is why there is some news that vaccines are “less effective” against the omicron mutant.
But to be more precise, it can be said that vaccines remain strong and provide sufficient protection against the omicron mutant for about 80% of vaccinated, but offer much lower immunity for 20% due to T cells and genetics.
A feature, not a bug
Professor Gaiha added that diversity in HLA immune-regulating genes is an advantage, not a defect, in immune systems, as it increases the odds of a species surviving a new infectious disease, a trait that the human being shares with other vertebrates, beginning with some fish. And down to the birds.
The diversity of HLA genes can also provide clues as to why some people develop long-term cases of Covid.
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