UTMB study shows unvaccinated, natural immunity offers little protection against omicron

GALVESTON, Texas (KTRK) -- UTMB researchers have studied the new COVID-19 variant and their findings reveal troubling data for unvaccinated individuals with previous infections.

UTMB RESEARCHERS DISCOVER NATURAL IMMUNITY OFFERS LITTLE PROTECTION AGAINST OMICRON

Unvaccinated individuals who were previously infected with COVID may not have as much natural immunity against the virus, especially when it comes to the new omicron variant.

"I've never seen anything like this," UTMB biochemistry professor, Dr. Pei-Yong Shi said.

Dr. Shi shared data from his research, showing how the level of natural immunity of unvaccinated individuals is nowhere near what it was in the past. In fact, it's about 16 folds lower than previous variants a month after the infection. The number drops even further if the infection was six months ago.

This means, if you had COVID in the past, and if you're unvaccinated, protection quickly fades against the omicron variant. The reason why is omicron has many more mutations than previous variants.

VACCINES HOLDING STRONG AGAINST THE OMICRON VARIANT

After looking at the vaccine and the new variant, researchers discovered that after receiving a booster, the level of antibodies increases dramatically.

"Against the omicron, after the third dose, the booster dose, the antibody levels are equivalent to the original two-dose against the original virus," Dr. Shi explained.

UTMB researchers aren't done looking into omicron. They're working to find out how long the increased level lasts. Some studies suggest the protection against infection is cut in half after a few months.

EVEN WITHOUT A BOOSTER, RESEARCH SHOWS VACCINES WORK AGAINST OMICRON

There's also research on people who only received two doses, and not a booster. Research shows the doses still provide protection against the omicron variant at preventing hospitalization and death.

"Even though that is not strong enough to defend you from being infected, but your immunity inside the body will still help you in case you got infected," Dr. Shi explained.

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