Washington lab to test omicron strain against current vaccines

Labs at Seattle-based University of Washington Medicine are gearing up to test the COVID-19 omicron variant against current vaccines and natural immunity to other strains, according to a Nov. 29 report by NBC affiliate KING-5.

Antibodies fight infection by recognizing a virus's spike protein, and the omicron variant has raised concerns over the number of mutations on its spike protein, when compared to the delta variant.

Marion Pepper, MD, interim chair of UW Medicine's immunology labs, said their efforts are focused on whether cells from people with immunity to other strains can respond to the new one.

"What we want to know — what are the changes in this new variant that are going to be dramatic, such that [the] immune system can no longer recognize those shapes?" Dr. Pepper said, according to the report.

UW labs will test the body's response to both omicron viral bodies and other, harmless viruses with omicron's spike protein attached, according to the report.


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