Could Omicron supersede Delta variant?
A new study by South African scientists suggests that Omicron could take the place of the Delta variant of the coronavirus because infection with the new variant boosts immunity to the older one.
The study only covered a small group of people and has not been peer-reviewed, but it found that people who were infected with Omicron, especially those who were vaccinated, developed enhanced immunity to the Delta variant.
The analysis enrolled 33 vaccinated and unvaccinated people who were infected with the Omicron variant in South Africa.
While the authors found that neutralisation of Omicron increased 14-fold over 14 days after the enrolment, they also found that there was a 4.4-fold increase in neutralisation of the Delta variant.
"The increase in Delta variant neutralization in individuals infected with Omicron may result in decreased ability of Delta to re-infect those individuals," the scientists who conducted the study said.The results of the study are "consistent with Omicron displacing the Delta variant, since it can elicit immunity which neutralizes Delta making re-infection with Delta less likely," they said.
According to the scientists, implications of this displacement would depend on whether or not Omicron is less pathogenic compared to Delta. "If so, then the incidence of COVID-19 severe disease would be reduced and the infection may shift to become less disruptive to individuals and society."