The SARS-CoV-2 virus uses an underground form of transmission to give our immune system the slip, a new study has found. The paper, led by Shan-Lu Liu, virology professor at the Department of Veterinary Biosciences at the Ohio State University, breaks down the mechanism in which the COVID virus seems to be spreading.
In simpler terms, the virus spreads from one cell to another as there is no immunity to prevent that spread. The target cell thus becomes a donor cell and a wave is created, the paper, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, stated.
Researchers said that this cell-to-cell transmission is not sensitive to inhibition from antibodies generated either through vaccines or through the previous infection. “Cell-to-cell transmission’s resistance to antibody neutralization is probably something we should watch for as SARS-CoV-2 variants continue to emerge, including the most recent, Omicron,” Liu said, “Developing effective antiviral drugs targeting other steps of viral infection is critical.”
The paper compared SARS-CoV-2 with SARS-CoV, the virus behind the SARS outbreak of 2003. The previous version led to a much higher fatality rate and lasted only eight months, the paper pointed out, whereas this version is continuing the pandemic for almost two years now. And the one thing that helps SARS-CoV-2 to escape antibodies is cell-to-cell transmission.
Restrictions are back in place in most corners of the world as fresh cases of Covid rising. Omicron, the latest variant of SARS-CoV-2, was first identified in South Africa on November 24. The emergence of this fast-spreading variant reveals that vaccinated people are also getting infected by this variant. Even people who have received booster doses against Covid are not safe from the infection.
In this backdrop, the World Health Organisation has only emphasised that Covid-appropriate behaviour is the only answer to the pandemic—not vaccines and booster doses.