Omicron variant

Burnet Institute

29 November, 2021

The World Health Organization has declared the Omicron (B.1.1.529) variant of SARS-CoV-2 a new variant of concern.

The omicron variant has 32 mutations in the spike protein, the viral protein responsible for attaching the virus to cells and initiating viral replication.

At this stage, it is too early to know whether these mutations significantly alter the ability of the virus to spread or evade vaccine-induced immunity or natural immunity acquired through prior infections with SARS-CoV-2.

Vaccines remain our best defence against the Omicron and all other variants of SARS-CoV-2.

Vaccines induce antibodies and cellular immune responses that reduce the ability of the virus to initiate infections.

Two doses of vaccine have been shown to reduce hospitalizations by over 95 percent, reducing both the severity of infection, the length of the infectious period and the chance of onward transmission.

We know that over time, immunity wanes and the TGA have recommended that all Australians receive a booster dose at 6 months after their second dose of vaccine.

A third dose of vaccine will restimulate your immune system to rapidly increase your level of immunity to SARS-CoV-2.

Further updates will be provided as data emerges.

Contact Details

For more information in relation to this news article, please contact:

Professor Heidi Drummer

Co-Program Director, Disease Elimination; Scientific Director, Burnet Diagnostics Initiative; Principal Investigator, Burnet Vaccine Initiative; Co-Head, Viral Entry and Vaccines Group




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