Home / News / India /  Future COVID variants likely to infect us differently: Expert explains why

New COVID variants, as and when it evolves, might infect us differently, a new study showed. Explaining this, Megan Steain, a virologist at the University of Sydney, Australia, said, “If some variants are able to replicate faster, for example, then they might be more infectious because you’re getting higher viral loads, faster, in the nasal cavity, and therefore, you would think, that would equate to more shedding."

This was noted by the expert while commenting regarding a study that suggested people who have been infected with the Omicron variant are less likely to spread the virus to others if they have been vaccinated or have had a previous SARS-CoV-2 infection. And in case, the individual has taken both doses of vaccines then the chances of spreading the virus are even lesser. 

The study was posted as a preprint on medRxiv this month and has not been peer-reviewed.

Noting it to be good news, Steain told scientific journal Nature, the more exposure people have to the virus, whether through vaccines, boosters or infections, the “higher the wall of immunity", she says. “If we can keep high levels of booster vaccinations up, then we can decrease how infectious people are when they’re sick."

The study was led by Nathan Lo, an infectious-disease researcher at the University of California, San Francisco, and his colleagues who analysed data of more than 22,000 confirmed cases of SARS-CoV-2 infection across California’s 35 adult prisons over a 5-month period during the first wave of the Omicron virus.  

The wave started with the BA.1 subvariant, but by the end of April, BA.2 had overtaken it and was the most common cause of COVID-19 in the country. Previous studies have suggested that vaccinated people are less likely to spread the virus if they were subsequently infected with Delta, but Lo’s study is one of the first to consider whether vaccines and previous infection reduce infectiousness with Omicron.

The study further detailed that although vaccination and previous infection help to reduce Omicron’s infectiousness, neither was enough to halt the number of new infections among prisoners. Four times out of five, the people who spread on the virus to others had been vaccinated or previously infected.

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