Overview:

Researchers have found that two antibodies are effective at neutralizing both Delta and Omicron variants, opening up new opportunities.

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COVID anxiety levels are dwindling among Americans. Even the very liberal have finally begun to take a breather. As more Americans eschew their N95 and cut large gathering limitations, the more COVID-conscious of us needn’t fret. Optimistic news on new treatment efficacy is also on the rise.

Perhaps one of the most exciting and underreported recent studies is on antibodies effective across variants. An August study out of Tel Aviv University demonstrated that two types of antibodies—TAU-1109 and TAU-2310—were extremely effective at combating Delta and Omicron variants.

The virus typically begins to wreak havoc as its outer spike proteins bind to our bodies’ ACE2 receptors. ACE2 receptors function as “the entry point for the coronavirus to hook into and infect a wide range of human cells.” The area on the spike protein that binds to these receptors is continually mutating, and thus able to elude preexisting antibodies. As a result, one can still contract COVID post-vaccination or post-infection.

However, researchers found that the TAU-1109 and TAU-2310 antibodies were effective at neutralizing the virus through binding to a different spot on the spike protein. This area is less likely to mutate throughout virus evolution, and so antibodies work at combating different variants.

Dr. Natalia Freund, one of the frontrunners of the study, said: “In our view, targeted treatment with antibodies and their delivery to the body in high concentrations can serve as an effective substitute for repeated boosters, especially for at-risk populations and those with weakened immune systems.”

While the new Omicron-targeted bivalent boosters look promising at preventing a fall surge, vaccine effectiveness wanes after a few months. In Freund’s eyes, preventative antibody treatments may be able to last longer, if administered in high doses.

Of course, issues abound. Current monoclonal antibody treatments can be incredibly expensive, as the government begins to transition out of covering costs for COVID treatments and vaccines.

As this new phase of the pandemic begins to take shape, antibody treatments will be something to keep an eye on—and maybe bug your insurance company about.

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Georgia Michelman is a reluctant recent Yale College graduate with backgrounds in physics, astronomy, and history. She is always searching for intersections between the worlds of science and the humanities....