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"Killer"immune cells still recognize Omicron variant

January 11, 2022

Amid concerns over lost antibody defences, some researchers argue that more attention should be paid to T cells.

"The T-cell responses remain quite intact, that’s good news. The next step will be: what will it do in real life?"
-Corine Geurts van Kessel-

When immunologists Wendy Burgers and Catherine Riou heard about the Omicron coronavirus variant last November, they knew they would need to find the answers to some important questions. Omicron’s genome is loaded with mutations — more than 30 in the region that codes for the spike protein, used in COVID-19 vaccines — meaning that the efficacy of antibodies raised against previous variants could be compromised.

Other studies have analysed T cells taken from people who have either received a COVID-19 vaccine or been infected with a previous variant, and found that these T cells can respond to Omicron2–4. “The T-cell responses remain quite intact, that’s good news,” says Corine Geurts van Kessel, a clinical virologist at the Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. “The next step will be: what will it do in real life?”

Read the full interview on the website of Nature