South African researchers said Tuesday a new study has found that people infected with the Omicron variant of the coronavirus may have developed enhanced immunity to the more severe Delta variant.
The Africa Health Research Institute in Durban said its small study involved 33 vaccinated and unvaccinated people. The study found that for those affected with the Omicron variant, their immunity against Delta improved 4.4-fold. The researchers said that protection was enhanced with those who were vaccinated.
“These 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 researchers said in the study. “In contrast, Omicron escapes neutralizing immunity elicited by Delta and therefore may re-infect Delta infected individuals.”
The study, which has yet to be peer reviewed, showed a 14-fold increase in the ability of Omicron antibodies to block reinfection.
The Omicron variant’s ability to possibly slow Delta, can have a profound effect on how researchers handle both. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Omicron currently represents 58 percent of Covid-19 cases in the United States while Delta, once the dominant variant in the country, represented 41 percent last week.