A new study headed by South African scientists at the Africa Health Research Institute in Durban analyzed 33 individuals who were and were not vaccinated against COVID and had contracted the Omicron variant and found that those who were infected with the Omicron variant developed an enhanced immunity to COVID's Delta variant.
While the study has not yet been peer-reviewed, it shows promising data on how the Omicron variant may displace Delta as the more dominant strain of the coronavirus.
According to Reuters, South African scientists found that the Omicron was neutralized up to 14 times over the 14 days following the tracking of data in the study. Meanwhile, there was a 4.4 fold increase in the neutralization of the Delta variant in the same period of time.
Study researchers remarked, "The increase in Delta variant neutralization in individuals infected with Omicron may result in decreased ability of Delta to re-infect those individuals."
This led researchers to conclude that the results are "consistent with Omicron displacing the Delta variant, since it can elicit immunity which neutralizes Delta making re-infection with Delta less likely." The scientists said that the implications of the displacement would depend on whether or not Omicron is truly less pathogenic versus the Delta variant. They said, "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."
The Blaze reported that scientists are optimistic that the pandemic may come to an end if Omicron does prove itself to cause a less severe form of illness than the Delta variant. The conclusions drawn in the recent study appear to support what South Africa is experiencing right now. Reports say that the wave of Omicron cases in the country swiftly subsided weeks after it was first reported, despite the country having a vaccination rate of just 48.3%.
On Monday, Alex Sigal, a professor at the Africa Health Research Institute in South Africa took to Twitter to remark that if Omicron behaves similarly around the world to how it was observed in South Africa, it will "help push Delta out" and possibly lead to the conclusion of COVID's disruption in people's lives.
Previous studies conducted in South Africa showed a reduced risk of hospitalization and severe illness in those infected with the Omicron variant compared with the Delta variant. Study authors, however, warned that it is possible that the reason behind this is the high levels of immunity in the population.
At a recent press briefing, controversial White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci remarked, "All indications point to a lesser severity of omicron versus delta," U.S. News & World Report said. USA Today reported that more children are being hospitalized with COVID, but some experts believe that Omicron does not appear to cause severe illnesses in kids compared to previous strands of the coronavirus.
Dr. David Rubin, a researcher at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, told The New York Times, "The important story to tell here is that severity is way down and the risk for significant severe disease seems to be lower."