Newer subvariants are ‘more resistant’ to COVID vaccines: study


Newer omicron subvariants are the most resistant to COVID-19 vaccines, including updated boosters and antibody treatments, a study found.

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A look at the latest coronavirus data from the US government shows several subvariants, all descendants of omicron, competing with each other when it comes to causing virus cases.

now four newer the subvariants that propagate are the “most resistant” to the protection offered by both the original COVID-19 vaccines and updated boosters targeting omicron, according to a new study published December 13 in the journal Cell.

These subvariants, BQ.1, BQ.1.1, XBB and XBB.1, are also resistant to antibody treatments against COVID-19, work involving researchers from Vagelos University College of Physicians and Surgeons found. Columbia and the University of Michigan. The group presents “serious threats” with the potential to “fuel” another wave of COVID-19, the scientists warned.

“It is alarming that these newly emerged subvariants may further compromise the efficacy of current COVID-19 vaccines and result in increased infections, as well as reinfections,” the study authors wrote.

In the USA, BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 dominate COVID-19 cases and made up about 70% of those reported for the week ending Dec. 17, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Meanwhile, XBB accounted for 7.2% of the cases.

While the study authors are “particularly” concerned about the resilient qualities of XBB and XBB.1, the good news for the US is that XBB.1, which became predominant in Asian countries, including India and Singapore , is not registered as one of the many omicron subvariants causing recent cases in the country.

For the study, the researchers analyzed blood samples from five different groups of vaccinated people.

This was described as a limitation of the work because it was carried out in vitro since blood samples were examined but not the patients themselves. The authors wrote that while in vitro studies of COVID-19 have “largely” predicted outcomes in people, they require similar clinical studies in people.

The study is peer-reviewed and published as a preprint, which means it is not the final version and will go through further editing and possible revision.

Subvariants are ‘barely susceptible’ to protection offered by vaccines and infection

In the investigation, the blood samples of the patients studied came from:

  • Those who received three or four doses of original COVID-19 mRNA vaccines

  • Those who recently received an updated COVID-19 booster as a fourth dose after receiving three original mRNA vaccines

  • Those who had an advanced infection caused by omicron BA.4 or BA.4 after being vaccinated

In general, the newer subvariants were “barely susceptible” to the neutralizing abilities of the original and updated COVID-19 vaccines, the researchers wrote. They are better at evading the virus-neutralizing antibodies offered by both vaccination with updated boosters and omicron breakthrough infections.

Updated “bivalent” COVID-19 vaccines omicron BA.4 and BA.5 objective, according to the Food and Drug Administration. The BA.5 subvariant currently ranks third as the most dominant subvariant spreading in the US, accounting for 10% of cases during the week ending December 17, CDC data shows .

Despite the threat posed by the four newer subvariants, the researchers emphasized that “although infections may now be more likely, COVID-19 vaccines have been shown to remain effective in preventing hospitalization and severe disease even against omicron.” ” and prolonged COVID.

Most people in the US have not received new boosters as subvariants spread

The study comes as only about 14% of the US has received an updated booster doseAccording to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For many people in the US, COVID-19 appears to be less of a concern this winter, even as public health officials continue to recommend that vaccines be updated, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

According to the latest report from the foundation COVID-19 Vaccine MonitorAbout four in 10 adults surveyed, 38%, said they already received the booster or will receive it “as soon as possible.”

In contrast, 12% of adults said they would wait and see, 13% said only if the updated booster is required, and 9% said they definitely won’t, according to results published Dec. 16.

This latest poll was conducted from November 29 to December 8 and included 1,259 people in the US. The margin of error was plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Another study found that older adults can be the most benefited of up-to-date vaccinations, as they are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, McClatchy News previously reported.

Newer subvariants resist antibody treatments

In addition, when it comes to monoclonal antibodies, the BQ.1, BQ.1.1, XBB and XBB.1 subvariants were “fully or partially resistant” to those tested, the study found.

At the time of the work, bebtelovimab was the only monoclonal antibody drug left licensed after older COVID-19 subvariants “eliminated” use of the others, according to the research.

However, the dominance of BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 changed this, as bebtelovimab is no longer authorized for emergency use by the FDA as of November 30, according to the agency.

The FDA said the treatment is “It is not expected to neutralizethose subvariants.

This is consistent with the study, which found that the BQ and XBB subvariants are “completely resistant” to bebtelovimab.

they are also totally Evusheld resistant, which is a combination of two monoclonal antibodies for immunocompromised people who are not recommended to get vaccinated against COVID-19 or may not have an “adequate” immune response, according to the FDA. Evusheld is the “only option for pre-exposure prophylaxis of COVID-19”.

For these people, the study authors wrote, “this poses a serious problem.”

“The urgent need to develop active monoclonal antibodies for clinical use is obvious,” the researchers said.

Ultimately, the researchers found that the “BQ and XBB subvariants present serious threats to current COVID-19 vaccines, inactivate all licensed antibodies, and may have gained dominance in the population due to their antibody-evading advantage.”

Julia Marnin profile picture

Julia Marnin is a McClatchy National Real-Time reporter covering the Southeast and Northeast from New York. She is an alumna of The College of New Jersey and joined McClatchy in 2021. She has previously written for Newsweek, Modern Luxury, Gannett and more.

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