Immunity given by vaccination lasts only so long. | Archive

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Dr. Javier Arranz, spokesperson for the regional infectious diseases committee in the Balearics, believes that 40% of the Balearic population may have had Covid.

Referring to a World Health Organization forecast in January of 50% of the European population being infected by Omicron within two months, Arranz notes that this was for the entire EU and so included countries with lower vaccination rates than in the Balearics and Spain. He doesn't believe that this percentage applies in the Balearics but that 40% is possible because of unreported and asymptomatic cases.

He accepts that it is "difficult" to specify a number. The great spread of the Omicron variant in the Balearics occurred towards the end of December, since when nearly 110,000 cases have been registered. However, and as he stresses, a significant number of cases - up to two-thirds, studies have indicated - have been reinfections.

The head of microbiology at Son Espases Hospital, Antonio Oliver, explains that the Delta variant is no longer circulating in the Balearics, and so 100% of cases are Omicron. Of these, 39% are the BA.2 subvariant. This behaves in a similar way to the original variant. The characteristics are similar, but it is more transmissible.

Arranz explains that there is still not enough information to know if immunity generated by having had Omicron serves to protect against the new subvariant. Natural protection, as well as that from the vaccine, does not last long.

The fact that acquired immunity decreases could be a reason for a new wave of infections in coming months. Arranz says that this this can always happen because vaccines stop working even with the third dose. "We will have to see how it evolves." There is the risk, he adds, that a new, more infectious strain will appear.

Oliver believes that making predictions with this virus is problematic. "I don't dare to predict anything." However, he does feel that 2022 will see the end of the pandemic, "as we have known it".