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Can Omicron Variant Antibodies Protect From Other Covid-19 Variants?

By Keith Speights and Brian Orelli, PhD – Dec 18, 2021 at 8:55AM

Key Points

  • There haven't been studies showing antibodies from infection by omicron protect against earlier variants.
  • In general, antibody levels after infection are much lower than those after vaccination.
  • Boosters appear to increase protection against omicron and earlier variants.

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The answer remains unclear. But one thing is clear: Vaccines provide the best overall protection.

Can natural antibodies produced after being infected by the fast-spreading omicron variant provide strong protection against earlier coronavirus variants? In this Motley Fool Live video recorded on Dec. 8, 2021, Motley Fool contributors Keith Speights and Brian Orelli address this question posed by a viewer.

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Keith Speights: Let's get to some questions here. Angelo says, "Any news about the antibodies created when infected with the so-far relatively harmless omicron variant, since it has multiple mutations, are the natural antibodies from omicron effective in fighting the earlier variants? I would think that would tank the vac stocks. What are your thoughts on that?"

Brian Orelli: I don't think I've seen any antibody studies that have looked at natural occurrence of omicron and then looked at -- are they able to block the other variants. I think that that's interesting, but in general, the infection, the antibody levels after an infection have been substantially lower than the antibody levels after vaccination, so vaccination is better. Getting a vaccination is better than getting infected, in terms of protection.

The other interesting thing is that the booster -- covering the booster show data from today from Pfizer (PFE -0.42%) and BioNTech (BNTX -3.59%) showing that if you're triple boosted -- you've gotten a two regimen and then the booster -- you're likely to have about the same protection against omicron as you are against other viruses that they suspect that that might be because the booster actually causes you to have a wider array of antibodies levels.

The other part of this here is that there's a second level beyond antibodies that your immune system has, which is T-cells, that can attack the virus. It doesn't appear that the omicron variant is actually causes. You'd have lower T-cell levels, although the attacking of the T-cells is equivalent for omicron versus the other variants.

That could potentially protect you even if you get an infection. It might protect you from having a severe infection if you've been vaccinated. Even if you just had the two-course regimen, you might get infected because you don't have the antibodies to fight it off initially. But once you get infected and the T-cells come in, and then they are able to take care of the virus really quickly.

Brian Orelli, PhD has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Keith Speights owns Pfizer. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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