Studies Show that Omicron Sneaks Past Vaccines

 

Studies add to evidence Omicron sneaks past vaccines but may cause milder disease


South African researchers added new details Tuesday to what's known about the Omicron variant of coronavirus, confirming that vaccines provide less protection against the new strain but also saying they still see indications that Omicron causes milder symptoms than previous variants.

There seems to be little doubt that Omicron is highly transmissible. The new variant now accounts for 3% of samples that are being genetically sequenced.

The spread has been rapid in South Africa, Britain and some other European countries, and health officials are hoping that early indications the virus causes milder disease hold up. Even if that's the case, however, the sheer number of infections could mean hospitals remain overwhelmed.

Government officials stressed that even if the variants can sneak by some of the protection offered by vaccines, vaccinated people tend to have milder disease or even no symptoms at all when infected. Vaccines remain the No. 1 choice for protecting people. Masks, social distancing and other measures also work.

Pfizer said it has some new hope to offer, with data showing that its experimental antiviral pill, Paxlovid, cut the risk of hospitalization or death by 89% if given to high-risk adults within a few days of their first symptoms. President Joe Biden said he was encouraged by the data.

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