Opinion: Covid-19 continues to surprise us – CNN

by | Jul 20, 2022 | COVID-19

Take the recent news about the latest Omicron subvariant, labeled BA.5. According to Eric Topol, a cardiologist and professor of molecular medicine at Scripps Research, BA.5 is the Ditto for the new generation of mRNA vaccines that contain new elements to induce antibodies against some Omicron strains — the variant specific or “adapted” mRNA shots. (The current vaccines target the original SARS-CoV-2 variant that dominated in 2020.) It is uncertain whether these updated vaccines will be effective against BA.4 and BA.5 (or whatever comes next), though the preliminary results from Qatar provide some reason for optimism. After all, if previous omicron infection may elicit effective antibody against the newest variants, so too might a vaccine that induces similar antibodies to this ever-shifting variant.The dream, of course, remains a vaccine that can produce a response that could handle any and all variants. It is not clear that such a vaccine is a realistic hope, at least in the short term. Finding a genetic sequence of the coronavirus that both is preserved across all variants and provokes potent antibodies is easy to think about but extremely difficult to develop. The example of the still-unsuccessful, 35-year pursuit of a vaccine to prevent HIV infection is a reminder that scientific progress is always completely unpredictable. Despite all these worries, I am not overly frightened about what’s ahead. Yes, the BA.4/BA.5 wave will cause illness, upset plans and add to the daily annoyance of everyone. However, we are not in a free fall like we were in 2020. In addition to the current lifesaving vaccines and the effective treatments for established infection, we have epidemiologic facts. With the original Omicron subvariants, BA.1 and BA.2, the intensity of the infection in the US came a month or more later than in South Africa and several weeks later than in Western Europe. The latest dominant subvariant hasn’t caused …

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