Virologists endorse booster shots after study hints at highly infectious Covid-19 mutations

Virologists have urged people to take the Covid booster dose after a new study found Omicron mutations elude vaccine-induced antibodies.

BySaurav Kumar

Published Jun 29, 2022 | 4:40 PM Updated Jul 22, 2022 | 2:20 PM

Virologists urge people to take Covid-19 booster dosesater dose

Virologists in the country have urged people to take booster doses of the Covid-19 vaccine to avoid new infections.

This came after a study published in the journal The Lancet Infectious Diseases found that subvariants of the Omicron variant of Sars-Cov-2 elude vaccine-induced antibodies.

Vellore-based clinical virologist Dr Jacob J John has said the Omicron variant is highly capable of evading the human body’s immune response. However, he said that its potential to cause death is low.

New mutations

The clinical study was conducted by Chinese researchers on 25 subjects and established the following:

  • New Omicron subvariants — BA.2.12.1, BA.2.13, BA.4, and BA.5 — with a spike-protein mutation have shown more infectious potential than the subvariant BA.2.
  • The mutation in the spike proteins has given the virus a significant resistance to the Covid-19 booster vaccine dose.
  • The new subvariants could cause a new wave of infections.

Covid booster protection

Virologists also believe that a vaccine booster dose is needed to avert serious medical conditions like heart problems, kidney impairment, and long-term breathing problems.

Veteran virologist and former head of the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) Dr Shahid Jameel told South First: “Antibody evasion is going to be the new norm for Covid-19.”

He explained, “Vaccines protect us from the disease and not from infections. Vaccinated individuals may get infected and show mild symptoms, but will remain safe due to early elimination of the virus.”

Jacob stressed the need to get a booster dose and added: “A booster shot could prevent infections for several months in those vulnerable to severe disease, including unvaccinated senior citizens and immunocompromised individuals.”

He also said that those undergoing cancer treatments respond less to vaccination, and that protecting them is crucial to controlling the pandemic.