Science deniers who expect medical research to be as tidy and predictable as a chapter in a middle school textbook sometimes see conspiracy theory when they look at the twists and turns in the scientific community’s response to the COVID-19.
The scientists themselves would say they are doing science in real time, adapting to the evidence they find. That’s why the scientists “keep changing their story,” because science is all about changing your understanding of the world by consulting the best possible evidence.
As our understanding of a thing develops, new evidence emerges that sometimes confirms, and sometimes challenges our most comprehensive understanding. Good science means adjusting your hypothesis to fit the available evidence. Put that hypothesis to the test by poking around the edges of what the experts know, looking at the gray areas (especially where credible experts disagree). Collect new evidence, adjust our understanding accordingly, and test the new hypothesis. (And then repeat.)
The team said the results held for both antibody and T-cell responses, and suggested those who caught Covid in the first wave of the pandemic did not gain a boost to their immune response should they subsequently catch Omicron.
The researchers said the finding was a surprise as it was typically assumed that a prior infection, even of a different variant, would act to boost an individual’s immune response.
Prof Danny Altmann, another author of the study, said that while it had previously been thought Covid variants such as Omicron had developed mutations in their spike protein that helped them to evade immune responses, the situation was more complex.
“It’s actually worse than that, because the adaptations that the spike [protein] has now are actually inducing a kind of regulation or shutdown of immune response,” he said, adding that while the study looked at responses to the BA.1, similar findings were likely for other subvariants of Omicron.