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Omicron variant more harmless than Delta

The new year begins with good news.

At the end of December, scientists at the German Primate Centre in Göttingen were still reporting that the SARS-CoV-2 variant Omicron evades the antibodies formed after infection and that the variant might escape current vaccines and  several therapeutic antibodies targeting the viral spike protein. However, according to an evaluation of a representative sample of COVID-19 disease progression after infection with the Omicron variant in South Africa since November, Omicron leads to significantly fewer hospital admissions than the Delta variant, which divides twice as slowly as the latter. The course under Omicron is therefore milder – contrary to previous assessments of most experts.
 
In addition, the vaccination effect is largely maintained even in non-boostered persons. This is what measurements of the so-called T-cell response of vaccinated persons have shown: The effect of the vaccination still reached 80% of the effect of a fresh vaccination even after the antibody titer had decreased, which the scientists attribute to the fact that the T-cell response, which eliminates virus-infected cells and was previously difficult to measure and therefore not recorded, remains largely intact.
 
By the end of December, 150 million booster vaccinations had been administered worldwide, most of them in the USA (>60 million), UK, Germany (>30 million each) and Brazil (>20 million). Based on the price of the most widely used SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, Comirnaty, these brought Pfizer and development partner BioNTech US$1.2bn in revenue. Nevertheless, governments continue to recommend the vaccinations, which make sense for immunocompromised patients, to the general population as well – probably also because the trade tax revenues help to balance the budgets of municipalities at production sites.
 
The German government has signed preliminary contracts with Pfizer worth €500m for the drug, which reduced the hospitalisation rate of infected patients by 89% in Phase III studies. Pfizer previously signed a contract with the US government worth $5.29bn. Analysts forecast global sales of $20bn for Pfizer from the corona drug.