BioScience Trends. 2022;16(1):1-3. (DOI: 10.5582/bst.2022.01062)
More effective vaccines and oral antivirals: Keys for the battle against Omicron
With the rapid roll out of vaccination programs and extraordinary non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) by the government, China has maintained a "dynamic zero-COVID-19" policy over the last two years. However, the global pandemic and immune evasion of Omicron variant poses a huge challenge to China. Currently, about 87.69% of the Chinese population has been vaccinated, most with inactivated vaccines. Although seroepidemiological data on the vaccinated are lacking, published data suggested that even a homologous booster of an inactivated vaccine displayed very limited neutralizing activity against the Omicron variant and that neutralizing activity was significantly lower than that of a heterologous booster or mRNA vaccine alone. A great concern is whether the neutralizing antibodies induced by inactivated vaccines can provide sufficient protection against the Omicron variant since local transmission of the Omicron variant is now occurring in China. The era of extraordinary NPIs by governments and countries to control the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 is going to change. Omicron's immune evasion of neutralizing antibodies induced by current vaccines and the majority of existing therapeutic SARS-CoV-2 monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) suggest an urgent need for more effective vaccines and highly effective oral antivirals, which will be the keys for the battle against Omicron in the future.