Catching the omicron variant could act as a “natural vaccine” among people who are currently unvaccinated against coronavirus, an immunologist has suggested.
Eleanor Riley, a professor of immunology and infectious diseases at the University of Edinburgh, said that Britons are “very likely” to contract the variant “in the next couple of weeks”.
“Everybody’s very likely to experience it in the next few weeks. If it is milder, and we know infection induces an immune response, [so] it is possible that this could act as a natural vaccine, getting to those people who have so far been unwilling to be vaccinated,” Prof Riley told BBC Radio 4.
“But I think we have to exercise a huge degree of caution with that, because there’s a huge ‘if’ about this ‘is it milder?’ And I think it’s very dangerous to compare data from South Africa to the UK. In the South African population there’s been so many waves of infection they’ve gone through, lots of immunity and a much younger population.”