haseltine9_Eve Edelheit for The Washington Post via Getty Images_antibody Eve Edelheit for The Washington Post via Getty Images

Buckling Up for Omicron

Although widespread vaccination against COVID-19 remains the top priority, the emergence of the Omicron variant indicates that additional lines of defense are needed. The most promising complement by far lies in new-generation monoclonal antibody treatments.

BOSTON – As yet another new SARS-CoV-2 variant emerges and begins to spread – one with a worryingly large set of mutations that may make the virus more capable of evading our immune defenses – we are all being forced to reassess the strategies we have come to rely on for protection.

In many countries, like the United States, vaccines have been viewed as the primary ring of protection, allowing Americans to live in relative security from the virus. But the more we learn about the virus’s ability to dodge and elude the early lines of immune-system defense, the more obvious the need for additional measures becomes.

Instead of relying on a single layer of protection, we should adopt a “belt-and-suspenders” approach. Vaccines remain the primary ring of support – the belt keeping our protective pants on straight. But we would do well to add a set of suspenders for additional support, just in case the belt breaks under mounting pressure from the virus. Based on what we know, our best bet lies with the wider use of monoclonal antibodies for early treatment of COVID-19 and for long-term prevention and protection from the disease.

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