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The emergence of new SARS-CoV-2 variant (Omicron) and increasing calls for COVID-19 vaccine boosters-The debate continues

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submitted on 2023-10-16, 07:12 and posted on 2023-10-16, 12:58 authored by Naushad Ahmad Khan, Hassan Al-Thani, Ayman El-Menyar

The emergence of highly mutated severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) variant Omicron (B.1.1.529) has ushered panic responses around the world due to its contagious and vaccine escape mutations. This variant has been designated as a variant of concern (VOC) by the World Health Organization (WHO) [1,2]. Since January 2021, multiple virus variants have emerged and become dominant in many countries [Table 1]. The emergence of these VOCs (Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Delta) variants was responsible for new waves of infections across the entire world [3]. The Delta variant was reported to have increased transmissibility, higher viral load [4] and high rates of reinfection [5]. Because of its ability to escape from natural immunity [6], it became the globally dominant variant. The emergence of Omicron as a new VOC has transformed the notion of the COVID-19 endgame and created a fresh discussion over-vaccination effectiveness and the ongoing booster campaign in an already COVID-19-weary world. Compared to other the VOCs, this variation unusually carries an exceptionally high number of mutations (50) on the spike (S) protein, the major antigenic target of antibodies produced by infections or immunization. This has led the scientific community to investigate how much this new variant could undermine the existing vaccines. The scientific community knows little about Omicron's infectivity, vaccine breakthrough, and antibody resistance, and reliable experimental results from labs will take a few weeks to come out. Although conclusive immunological and clinical data are not yet available, early genomic data show immune evasion capabilities, fast transmission ability, reinfection rate, and severity [7]. This has triggered the calls to intensify vaccination programmes, including booster doses [8].

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Published in: Travel Medicine and Infectious Disease
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  • English



Publication Year

  • 2022

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This Item is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Institution affiliated with

  • Hamad Medical Corporation
  • Hamad General Hospital - HMC
  • Weill Cornell Medicine - Qatar