Scientists Identify Antibodies That Can Neutralize Omicron: Basics Explained

An international team of scientists has identified those antibodies that can neutralize the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2. The results of their study were published in the journal Nature. The antibodies identified by the scientist’s target areas of the virus spike protein that remain unchanged as it mutates.

Four classes of antibodies, as identified by the scientists, retained their ability to neutralize this variant. The members of each of these classes of antibodies target one of four specific areas of the spike protein that is present in the SARS-CoV-2 virus and also a group of related coronaviruses called sarbecoviruses. These sites possibly didn’t change(conserved area) because they play an important role which the protein would lose if these were to mutate.

By identifying the targets of these “broadly neutralizing” antibodies on the spike protein, it might be possible to design vaccines and antibody treatments that will be effective against not only the omicron variant but other variants that may emerge in the future.

The World Health Organization (WHO) had declared a new coronavirus variant to be “of concern” and named, initially named B.1.1.529, it Omicron.

It had a large number of mutations, and early evidence suggested an increased reinfection risk, the WHO said. It was first reported to the WHO from South Africa on 24 November


Viruses constantly change through mutation. A variant has one or more mutations that differentiate it from other variants in circulation. As expected, multiple variants of SARS-CoV-2 have been documented globally throughout this pandemic.

A variant of interest is one that is “suspected” to either be more contagious than the initial strain, cause more severe disease, or escape the protection offered by vaccines.

Variant of Concern

A variant for which there is evidence of an increase in transmissibility, more severe disease (e.g., increased hospitalizations or deaths), significant reduction in neutralization by antibodies generated during previous infection or vaccination, reduced effectiveness of treatments or vaccines, or diagnostic detection failures.

The immune system is made up of special organs, cells, and chemicals that fight infection (microbes). The main parts of the immune system are white blood cells, antibodies(Immunoglobulins), the complement system, the lymphatic system, the spleen, the thymus, and the bone marrow. These are the parts of your immune system that actively fight infection.

White blood cells

The key players in our immune system; made in your bone marrow and are part of the lymphatic system;move through blood and tissue throughout your body, looking for foreign invaders (microbes) such as bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi so to launch an immune attack. White blood cells include lymphocytes (such as B-cells, T-cells), and many other types of immune cells. 

Antibodies help the body to fight microbes. They do this by recognizing substances called antigens on the surface of the microbe. The antibodies then mark these antigens for destruction. There are many cells, proteins, and chemicals involved in this attack. 

Lymphatic system

The lymphatic system is made up of:

  • lymph nodes (also called lymph glands) — which trap microbes
  • lymph vessels — tubes that carry lymph, the colourless fluid that bathes your body’s tissues and contains infection-fighting white blood cells
  • white blood cells (lymphocytes).


The spleen is a blood-filtering organ that removes microbes and destroys old or damaged red blood cells. It also makes disease-fighting components of the immune system (including antibodies and lymphocytes).

Bone marrow

Bone marrow is the spongy tissue found inside your bones. It produces the red blood cells our bodies need to carry oxygen, the white blood cells we use to fight infection, and the platelets we need to help our blood clot. 


The thymus filters and monitors your blood content. It produces the white blood cells called T-lymphocytes.

Complement system

The complement system is made up of proteins whose actions complement the work done by antibodies.

The immune system keeps a record of every microbe it has ever defeated, in types of white blood cells (B- and T-lymphocytes) known as memory cells. This means it can recognize and destroy the microbe quickly if it enters the body again before it can multiply and make you feel sick.

Monoclonal antibodies are laboratory-produced antibodies designed to recognize and bind to specific receptors found on the surface of cells. The term monoclonal antibody means that the man-made antibody is synthesized from cloned immune cells, and the identical monoclonal antibody produced binds to one type of antigen. They are derived from natural antibodies, complex proteins derived from a single B cell made by the body’s immunological defense system to recognise and fight foreign invaders such as bacteria and viruses.


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