Omicron gives better immune responses than booster shot, reveal Studies

News Network
May 16, 2022

People who are vaccinated and then get infected with Omicron may be primed to overcome a broad range of coronavirus variants, early research suggests.  

A pair of studies showed that infection produced even better immune responses than a booster shot in vaccinated patients. Teams from Covid-19 vaccine maker BioNTech SE and the University of Washington posted the results on preprint server bioRxiv in recent weeks.

The findings offer a reassuring sign that the millions of vaccinated people who’ve caught Omicron probably won’t become seriously ill from another variant soon -- even though the research needs to be confirmed, especially by real-world evidence. 

“We should think about breakthrough infections as essentially equivalent to another dose of vaccine,” said John Wherry, a professor and director of the Institute for Immunology at the University of Pennsylvania who wasn’t involved in the research but reviewed the BioNTech study. That could mean that if someone had Covid recently, they could wait before getting another booster shot, according to Wherry. 

Alexandra Walls, a principal scientist at the University of Washington who authored one of the studies, cautioned that people shouldn’t seek out infections in response to the findings.

The data comes as Omicron continues to fuel outbreaks around the world, most notably in China, where residents of Shanghai have endured almost six weeks of lockdown. Waves of new variants are coming more quickly in part because Omicron is so transmissible, giving it ample opportunity to spread and mutate as countries drop restrictions, said Sam Fazeli, an analyst with Bloomberg Intelligence. Meanwhile, regulators are weighing whether Covid vaccines should be updated to target Omicron.

BioNTech’s team argued that the data indicate that offering people an Omicron-adapted booster shot may be more beneficial than multiple ones with the original vaccines.

The Washington research, conducted together with Vir Biotechnology Inc., looked at blood samples from people who had been infected, and then had two or three doses of vaccine, as well as those who’d caught the delta and Omicron variants after two or three doses; others still had been vaccinated and boosted but never caught Covid. A final group had only been infected with Omicron and never vaccinated.

One part of the study zeroed in on antibodies, the protective proteins tailored to recognise and neutralise invaders. It showed vaccinated people who’d caught Omicron had antibodies that outperformed the others. They were even capable of recognizing and attacking the very different delta variants. 

“That indicates that we are at the point where we may want to consider having a different vaccine to boost people,” said David Veesler, an assistant professor at the University of Washington, who led the research. The scientists were also able to identify antibodies in the nasal mucous of these patients, which could help them neutralise the virus as soon as it enters the body. 

Nasal sprays are poised to be the next weapon for fighting Covid

Both the Washington and BioNTech studies also looked at another piece of the immune system: B cells, a type of white blood cell that can kick in to produce a burst of fresh antibodies if they recognise a pathogen. People who’d had an Omicron breakthrough infection had a broader response from these useful cells than those who’d had a booster shot but no infection, the BioNTech team found. 

Crucially, the Washington team also found that the broad response was missing in unvaccinated people who had caught Omicron as their first exposure to the virus. This “would be a problem if a new variant that is significantly different emerged,” Veesler said. 

There’s no guarantee that future mutations will be as mild as Omicron, and the pandemic’s future is hard to predict since it depends not just on immunity in the population, but also on how much the virus mutates. 

Other researchers who reviewed the studies said the findings match up with the growing body of evidence for an immune boost from exposure to different virus variants via vaccination and infection. Scientists have also shown broad immune responses in people who caught delta after getting their shots. 

“Maybe this is an indication that an updated booster might be a good idea,” said Theodora Hatziioannou, a virologist at The Rockefeller University who helped lead a team that looked at breakthrough infections in a group of vaccinated people in New York City. 

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News Network
June 21,2022

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Mangaluru, June 21: The Urwa police arrested three persons who had allegedly assaulted the policemen who were patrolling at Chilimbigudde in the night.

The police personnel suffered injuries and are undergoing treatment at Wenlock Hospital in Mangaluru. The injured policemen are Venkatesh and Dhananjay.

According to the police, the arrested are Durgesh, Prajwith and Rakshith -- all residents of Chilimbigudde. The arrested have been remanded to judicial custody.

DCP (Law and Order) Hariram Shankar said that when the police were patrolling, a group of youths were found consuming alcohol in a public place at Chilimbi Gudde. 

During the inquiry, a few of them allegedly misbehaved with the police personnel. They also assaulted the policemen on duty before fleeing the spot.

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News Network
June 22,2022

Mumbai, June 22: A Maharashtra Shiv Sena minister, who is among the dissidents led by party leader Eknath Shinde, on Wednesday said they do not have any complaints against the Sena leadership, but they have been upset with the style of function of the NCP and Congress, the other two ruling alliance partners in the state.

The Shiv Sena MLAs, who have rebelled against the party, plunging the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in Maharashtra into a crisis, arrived in Assam's Guwahati city by a chartered flight on Wednesday.

Speaking to a TV channel over phone, Maharashtra minister Sandipan Bhumare, who is among the dissidents, said, "We do not have any complaints against the Shiv Sena leadership. We have raised our complaints with Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, that it was getting difficult to work with the NCP and Congress ministers. It was very difficult for us to get our proposals and work requests approved from their ministers.”

To a query, Bhumare said he was given a cabinet portfolio and was satisfied with it. "What else do I need in life. But, as a people's representative, I need to address the grievances of my people. I could not do it properly because of these two alliance partners,” he added.

Meanwhile, another dissident Sena MLA Sanjay Shirsath told a TV channel that 35 party legislators were in Guwahati. "A couple of more MLAs will join us by today evening. We also have the support of three independent MLAs,” he claimed.

Shirsath also targeted state NCP and Congress ministers and claimed their "hostile behaviour" forced the Sena legislators to revolt. 

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News Network
June 24,2022

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Mumbai, June 24: With the Shiv Sena faction led by Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray seeking cancellation of membership of several rebel MLAs, minister Eknath Shinde, who has spearheaded the revolt against the party, has claimed that the group led by him is the "real Shiv Sena", and also hit back saying he and his supporters will not be intimidated by the disqualification threats.

In a series of tweets posted late Thursday night, Shinde who is camping in Guwahati along with 37 Sena legislators and 10 independents, said as per the 10th Schedule of the Constitution, a party whip is issued for the legislature proceedings and not for attending a meeting.

The Shiv Sena led by Thackeray has sought the disqualification of 12 legislators from the Shinde camp for not attending the legislature party meeting on Wednesday.

"Eknath Shinde faction that's challenging us must realise that Shiv Sena workers are yet to come on the roads. Such battles are fought either through law or on the roads. If need be then our workers would come on the roads," said Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut, adding that the rebel camp's numbers are only on the papers.

"Shiv Sena is a big ocean, such waves come and go," Raut said.

Responding to it, Shinde said in tweets, "There are several Supreme Court decisions in this regard. Who are you trying to frighten? We understand your games and law as well. You can't ask for action against 12 of our MLAs because we are loyal to Balasaheb Thackeray and are the real Shiv Sena and Shiv Sainiks. In fact, we demand action against you for forming a group despite having no numbers."

In the wake of his rebellion, Shinde was sacked as Shiv Sena's group leader in the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly. The party appointed Ajay Chaudhary in his place.

However, the rebel faction passed a resolution retaining Shinde as their group leader and appointed Bharat Gogawale as the chief whip in place of Sunil Prabhu. Prabhu had sent letters to the rebels, asking them to attend the legislature party meeting on Wednesday evening in Mumbai or face action under the anti-defection law. 

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