December 3, 2021 • SigSci Senior Scientist Gene Godbold was interviewed by Houston Public Media today about his research on the Omicron variant’s transmissibility and its ability to evade vaccine protections.
In the interview Godbold says “the takeaway message is that the omicron variant has more immune evasive mutations than anything we’ve seen yet. And it may have even more than that because it’s got new ones that nobody studied yet. So the question of whether it evades the vaccines? It probably doesn’t. I mean, it probably isn’t going to evade a normal person with a normal immune system. And why is this? Like a normal immune response, you can generate dozens of different types of neutralizing antibodies. I think the most immune invasive variant so far has knocked out like six of those neutralizing antibodies.”
“I can’t guarantee it, but it looks like Omicron is going to wipe out a lot more than six. That doesn’t mean that you don’t have any defense, because obviously neutralizing antibodies aren’t the whole thing, but neutralizing antibodies are really important to prevent transmission and colonization. So it’s probably going to be more likely to get a foothold into people, is what I’m betting on. Even people who are vaccinated and boosted are probably still gonna be able to get this more than the other variants.”
“Now, there’s no way to tell how this is going to work out in terms of what kind of sickness they get. It may be mild, it may be just a cold for the people that are vaccinated. We’re going to have to see how that works.”
You can listen to the entire interview on Houston Public Media’s website.