In my previous article I quoted a University of Cape Town study showing that long-lasting T cell response, induced either by vaccination or natural infection, cross-recognizes Omicron.
The authors concluded that well-preserved T cell immunity to Omicron is likely to contribute to protection from severe COVID-19 caused by other variants.
10, the scientific journal Nature published a peer-reviewed article titled “Cross-reactive memory T cells associate with protection against SARS-CoV-2 infection in COVID-19 contacts.” Submitted to Nature by Imperial College London scientists five months ago, the article looked at T cell epitopes (very small protein fragments) from different SARS-CoV-2 proteins (S, N, E, and ORF1) in terms of their cross-reactivity to those of other species of human coronavirus OC-43 and HKU1, which cause the common cold.In other words, if the N-protein epitopes from the common cold could induce long-term protective T cell immunity against SARS-CoV-2, then Omicron infection with plenty of N-protein epitopes should also be able to induce similar T cell immunity and provide stronger protection against any future SARS-CoV-2 variant infections.There are two reasons that the transition from pandemic to endemic did not happen until Omicron: 1) all the widely used vaccines are based on the spike protein, which does not induce protective long-lasting T cell response, and 2) natural immunity was not widespread.
Accordingly, we could foresee that a wider spread of Omicron infection would induce a wider range of cross-reactive T cell immunity, subsequently offering more widespread protection against potential future SARS-CoV-2 variants.Hopefully, Omicron will act like its other attenuated vaccine cousins, and with any luck no other SARS-CoV-2 variants will emerge and become a pandemic in the future.
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