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Omicron variant – The effectiveness of vaccines against the new strain

The appearance of the new omicron strain in South Africa, its high transmissibility, the large number of mutations and its rapid spread around the world have particularly worried scientists globally.

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Data on the effectiveness of available vaccines are still early.

The Doctors of the Therapeutic Clinic of the Medical School of the National and Kapodistrian Athens Theodora Psaltopoulou, Panos Malandrakis, Giannis Danasis and Thanos Dimopoulos summarize three recent relevant publications in the prestigious international journal Nature.

Multiple mutations (37 to 15 in the spike region of the virus) of the strain in the spike region of the virus raise concerns about whether existing vaccines provide effective immunity to Omicron.

A study (doi: https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-021-03826-3) showed that the new strain is resistant to the serum neutralization of people who had been ill, as well as the serum of people who had been vaccinated with one of the approved vaccines.

Even serum from subjects receiving booster doses had reduced neutralizing ability against the Omicron strain.

As for monoclonal antibodies, their effectiveness against the new strain is reduced, even those that have already been approved and administered.

Another study (doi: https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-021-03824-5) after sequencing of the gene of the Omicron strain showed that it also requires the ACE2 receptor to infect human cells.

In serum samples from persons that were both vaccinated and fallen ill and those vaccinated alone, the neutralization of the Omicron strain provided by the vaccines was 22 times less than that of the original Wuhan strain.

In individuals who had become ill and received two doses of vaccine, the neutralization of the Omicron strain was equivalent to the neutralization provided only by the vaccine without a history of disease compared to the original strain of the virus.

Decreased immunity due to Omicron

In conclusion, this study concludes that although the immunity provided by vaccines is reduced, they certainly provide some protection especially with booster doses.

A third study (doi: https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-021-03825-4), also published in the journal Nature, confirmed reduced efficacy against the Omicron variant, possibly exceeding the third dose.

Antibodies against the RBM region lost their  in vitro potency for the Omicron strain, with only 3 of 29 retaining their efficacy (including ACE-2 mimetic antibody S2K146). Also other antibodies that do not target RBM were effective against the Omicron such as sotrovimab, SX259 and S2H97.

The escape of the micron strain from antibody protection is a key antigenic change in the evolutionary course of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Therefore, it is particularly important to administer the third booster dose in conjunction with known protective measures, in order to limit the spread of the Omicront strain and in particular to prevent disease from it.

  • Published in Health

"Greece again": 3,000 euros for repatriation of Greek scientists

Rebrain Greece presented the program for the repatriation of Greek scientists who fled abroad during the crisis, said Labor Minister Yiannis Vroutsis.

The most important of the four pillars of the program is the "Greece Again" action. It is a pilot program of repatriation of 500 Greeks that reside abroad, with highly qualified and scientific experience, aged 28-40 years with the participation of Greek companies through their financing (70%) and with a minimum monthly wageof € 3,000 with the obligation to work for 12 months. in the business.

The 4 major actions for the repatriation of Greeks abroad
Afterwards, the Minister of Labor and Social Affairs Mr. Yiannis Vroutsis presented the 4 major actions of REBRAIN GREECE which are as follows:

  • Action "Greece Again" with the pilot program of repatriation of 500 Greeks of high quality foreign and scientific experience, aged 28-40 years with the participation of Greek companies through their financing (70%) and with a minimum monthly fee of 3,000 euros with the obligation to work for another 12 months in business.
  • Establishment of a REBRAIN GREECE body in the form of a Non-profit Legal Private Law Entity providing technical assistance and consulting in the areas of labor market monitoring and analysis and active policy planning.
  • Development of a REBRAIN GREECE CoLab platform that will create a digital registry of Greeks abroad and incorporate data on the needs of Greek businesses.
  • The Intelligent Labor Market Action Plan, which will incorporate smart actions in targeted labor market policies utilizing modern data visualization technologies and the principles of collective intelligence.
  • Published in Diaspora
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