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Sorry if this is wordy. I've tried to include the research I did, before asking. If anything is poorly worded, let me know, I'll try to fix it.

This article, although sketchy, and slightly sensationalist worded, seems to be based on actual published preliminary research. I'm curious how accurate two aspects of its stated claims are, medically.

Question

There is a lot of discussion of vaccine and immune evasion by Omicron, because of substantial mutations from previous variants, including those that current vaccines were based on. There's also discussion of far higher risk of reinfection, but again that seems to be for people whose previous infections were delta and earlier.

There isn't much accessible media discussion of whether recovery from Omicron itself, fills that gap, and if so how well.

Specifically, suppose we considered only people who are 3x jabbed, who had a booster > 4 weeks ago, have futhermore had and recovered well from Omicron, and are otherwise in good health and not known vulnerable:

Is the statement that they should now have exceedingly high immunity to all current variants, and therefore in particular be unable/very unlikely to be reinfected within 90 days by current variants, supported or likely?

Situation prompting the question

Many people around where I live are 3x vaccinated (2 initial jabs + booster of a different vaccine, all more than 4 weeks ago). Of course these weren't tuned against Omicron, as we know. Accordingly some people (independent of each other) had breakthrough infections of omicron, which I understand is the correct term. These were mild - presumably due to the 3x jabs (thank you medical science!), they ran their course and ended with no visible enduring effects. Calm returned.

The question that arose, therefore, was that, these are people who - despite being in good health with no known immune system issues - still avoided much social contact during mid December to early January specifically because they lacked specific protection against the then-new and little known Omicron (although likely to have substantial protection against severe disease), and wished to avoid either catching it or passing it on.

However, having now had 3x jabs and caught omicron anyway, it was suggested to be extremely unlikely they would be able to catch omicron again, at least for perhaps 2-3 months (90 days was mentioned in media and UK govt publications as an example). That fact plus existing jabs, it was suggested, meant they should be safe from omicron reinfection to attend social events without much worry, at least until perhaps mid/end March (68/83 days), and then reassess.

My own informal research

I went to research this online, and found the above article. Ignoring the hyperbole and sensationalist wording, it makes the following claims as being research based:

People who are fully vaccinated and get omicron could be exceptionally immune to current sars-cov2 variants (delta and omicron I guess).

Actual quote: "Fully vaccinated people infected with the omicron variant of the novel coronavirus could end up with super immunity to the coronavirus, according to new research"

There isn't much peer reviewed research on it, yet, but post-infection with omicron could give rise to exceptional immunity as above, although the disease itself is a dangerous risk and shouldn't be sought after.

Actual quote: "the omicron variant could create super immunity. However, little specific research has been done into how the omicron variant could lead to more immunity... [But] experts still advise against getting COVID-19 because of the multiple health effects of the disease. Many COVID-19 patients spend months recovering..."

I also found that reinfection risk is 5x or more higher, but.... that's largely the risk of alpha/delta recoverers getting reinfected with omicron, not omicron recoverers getting an omicron reinfection.

Apparent takeaway points from these publications

The core claims certainly seem plausible medically:

  1. Delta and earlier variants that preferentially attacked deep lung tissue with greater damage, seem to be much less common here. For example, while not vanished, delta is certainly not the predominant variant in the wild in the UK and risk is considerably lower.
    (20k vs 300k new weekly cases from what I can find in most recent UK govt stats??? Unsure exact data)
  2. The UK governments own flu and covid surveillance report for 1st week 2022 states that there is a 90 day period before reinfection is valid (p.18).
  3. 3x jabs are tuned to delta and also provide some significant assistance with fending off omicron.
  4. They have antibodies specific to omicron, due to recent infection/recovery. (Which may well also provide some additional cross immunity to delta? After all, the variants still have much in common)
  5. The media statements of 5x reinfection risk might not be applicable. They relate much more to the risk that someone with delta history (and jabs based on alpha/delta) could get an omicron reinfection, not someone who already has antibodies specific to a recent/past omicron infection.

Therefore for some period of time, it does seem reasonable to believe that in the stated circumstances these people are probably right to believe they are at very low risk of any current variant of covid-19 infection if they socialise, at least for the next perhaps 90 days.

So as I asked, I'm left with the question posed at the top of this question.

What medical and research data currently exists to either support or cast doubt on such a conclusion?

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  • 1
    Your question has drawn a "needs more focus" close vote because it asks two questions (probably also why the downvote). It does ask two questions, but I'm not sure they really are two questions. It seems likely that the answer to question #1 answers question #2, and vice versa. I recommend that you edit the question to ask only one.
    – Carey Gregory
    Jan 8 at 23:28
  • @CareyGregory - Thank you for the explanation and guidance. I've edited that, and added 2 small paragraphs above it. Is it sufficient to reopen?
    – Stilez
    Jan 9 at 2:22
  • Yes, it's fine now. It was never actually closed. I was just warning you that it was in danger of being closed.
    – Carey Gregory
    Jan 9 at 4:54

1 Answer 1

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Your scenario of multiple vaccinations + infection is a somewhat limited population at the moment. However, there is a small study just published in New England Journal of Medicine titled "Plasma Neutralization of the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron Variant" 1.

In this study they looked at the presence of neutralizing antibodies in people who had either had an infection (omicron vs Wuhan-Hu-1) followed by a vaccination or vaccination (2 dose course) followed by booster at 6 mo.

They found that infection followed by vaccination resulted in higher neutralizing titres than vaccination followed by booster. Vaccination followed by booster also resulted in increased neutralizing antibodies. How either of these relates to protection is not clear at the moment.

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1: Schmidt et al., NEJM, Dec 31 2021.

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  • Thanks. I can well believe its limited knowledge. But not a limited population. Omicron after all only really gained wide attention perhaps 6 or so weeks ago. But the scenario probably isn't a limited population here (UK). Many, many people will have had 3 vaccinations based on older variants. Omicron rates are nonetheless very high. Conclusion - a lot of people will have this combination of full vaccinations + subsequent omicron. Resulting question - How safe does that subsequent omicron make people, against the gap in protection left by alpha-based vaccines, in an omicron world? Hence this Q
    – Stilez
    Jan 10 at 9:56
  • @Stilez possibly - how many of those infections are in people with the scenario that you described. Science also takes time (lots of time usually. The process goes something like this: ethics application and approval -> patient identification, ->patient approval-> sample collection-> testing-> verification of results-> write up-> submit to journal -> peer review -> publication. Peer review alone often takes 3-6 weeks for a high impact journal, so to fit all that in to the time frame for Omicron so far is pushing it a bit. We'll see more in the near future though.
    – bob1
    Jan 10 at 19:53
  • Yeah, that's what I thought. We may simply not know, yet. But medically I lack skill to know if that means we don't have a decent idea or best guess yet, or some suggestive prepublication early findings
    – Stilez
    Jan 10 at 20:05
  • @Stilez - you might be interested in this, not about omicron, but they cover delta, beta, alpha. You are correct, we just don't quite know yet. Given time someone will publish a better data set than in my answer above. Note that omicron is just one in a series and the next one along will also have the same questions, so omicron might well be redundant in a few months.
    – bob1
    Jan 10 at 20:19
  • its relevant to people trying to decide what risk attending events may pose of reinfection, during the next 3 months, post omicron recovery. I imagine a lot of people with all vaccinations plus past omicron, are wondering if we know anything about that, right now. So yes its a moving target, but still seems a good thing to ask what we can know or guess,even though doubtless there will be a further development of variants in time. The thing is, omicron being so changed, there isn't yet a specific vaccine, its natural to ask whether infection recovery itself plugs that gap?
    – Stilez
    Jan 10 at 20:34

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