Local doctor says antibodies should be effective against new omicron variant

One doctor says we can treat this variant like an Omicron Plus, they say it's more transmissible but it isn't as severe.

COVID-19 cases are rising across the world, and we could see a rise in the United States in the next few weeks.

Doctors say the subvariant of Omicron, BA.2, accounts for about a quarter of the cases reported, adding that it’s more transmissible, but not as severe.

One doctor says we can treat this variant like an Omicron Plus.

If you had the antibodies against omicron, doctors say it’s helpful against this subvariant.

Dr. Jonathan Kantor, epidemiologist for the Penn Center for Epidemiology, said the response now is about learning how bad the variant is.

“Obviously, we want to do whatever we can within reason to minimize how many people are going to get sick or end up in the hospital and have bad things happen to them,” Kantor said. “But there are ways to do that, that don’t interfere with your daily life and that’s what’s so important.”

Vaccines are still readily available and so are their boosters.

This week, Moderna asked the FDA to approve a fourth shot of its vaccine in preparation for the new variant.

Kantor said the antibodies people gained from having the first mmicron strain are helpful against BA.2

“Having had BA.1 Omicron, which is what almost all of those, you know, almost million people a day in the US were getting, protects you somewhat against BA.2,” he said. “And that may be why it may be because we had such a crazy surge before. That may be why we’re not seeing as much of an uptick in numbers now. Because those people who had omicron are a little bit protected.”

Scientists say BA.2 doesn’t appear to be more severe, but there is a chance it could become the dominant variant in the country.

Kantor added that the outcome of the vaccines was not to prevent COVID-19, but instead to prevent serious illness, hospitalization, and death.

He says for those reasons, the vaccines are highly effective.


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