Covid, the immunologist Mantovani: “Omicron should have extraordinary mutations to escape the vaccine, so it is unlikely”

“In front of others disturbing variants, like the South African Beta and the Indian Delta, vaccines offered one reduced, but significant protection. The more the training of the immune system increases, including the third dose and the flu, the more the repertoire of that secret orchestra which is the immune system grows. Healed with two doses and other people with three doses probably widen the immune response against all variants ”. The immunologist Alberto Mantovani, scientific director of Humanitas, believes that the new variant of Sars Cov 2 Omicron – which has put the world on alert – should not compromise vaccination. According to the scientist, “to make it you should have extraordinary mutations, therefore it is unlikely that it will completely escape ”. Omicron has 32 Spike protein mutations and appears to spread very fast. Before its appearance, South Africa had reached about 250 cases per day by mid-November.

“South Africa has shared data to reproduce with la proteina Spike on the computer and in vitro to compare it with the antibodies of the courts of cured and vaccinated patients that we follow. The same is also done with memory cells. AND Sarah Mapelli, a bioinformatician of my research group, tries to understand with models whether innate immunity, the first protective line of defense in most cases, continues to work ”, says Mantovani. Although, “with an iridescent virus and effective vaccines, but to be updated and perhaps adapted, it is difficult to speak of herd immunity. However, the goal of vaccinating 90 percent of Italians does not change “. Pharmaceutical companies are working to test Omicron and understand if the shield of the compounds will hold, Pfizer-Biontech have made it known that if it were necessary to develop a new messenger RNA vaccine it would take about 100 days.

As far as the obligation is concerned, it is “a political choice, which in the case should be seriously applied because there is nothing worse than Manzoni’s cries. The other childhood vaccinations were easy to implement thanks to school supervision. THEn this case, the growing limitations of the Green Pass seem wiser to me“. However, the third dose should not be postponed pending a better understanding of the new variant: “Although the mRna technology is flexible, it would take months, while it is good to protect yourself immediately. The third dose could provide good protection for Omicron and better prepare for an eventual fourth updated dose ”.

On therapies, explains Mantovani, “the monoclonal antibodies are bound to the virus and therefore it is occurring. For the antivirals Remdesivir and Molnupiravir no modifications are required. As with other drugs useful in the advanced stage of the disease, such as cortisone and Anakinra. However, anti-inflammatories have never worked, except to alleviate the initial symptoms of the mild form for which paracetamol or ibuprofen are enough “. The Omicron variant, however, highlights, once more, the difficulties of Africa: “More doses have to be donated, help vaccination as ‘Doctors with Africa CUAMM’ does in South Sudan and think about local productions such as the EU with Biontech. Moderna has liberalized the patent for Africa, but I doubt that could be the way“. As for the protection given by the vaccine, Mantovani concludes: “Six months after the two doses, the protection against hospitalization remains above 80 percent and with the third dose it will improve”. Even for those who made AstraZeneca “the situation is similar. After six months, according to data from Neil Ferguson of Imperial college, the protection is 90 percent against death, 77 for severe illness and 30 for mild disease. Vaccinated with AstraZeneca after a third dose of mRna could become the most protected. “

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