HONG KONG– A research done by the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) and the University of Melbourne has revealed that T cells, one of the body’s key defenses against COVID-19, are expected to be effective in mounting an immune response against Omicron, the HKUST announced on Monday.

A staff member tests the Omicron variant of COVID-19 at a laboratory in Gwangju, South Korea, on Dec. 29, 2021. (NEWSIS/Handout via Xinhua)

Published on Sunday in scientific journal Viruses, the team analyzed over 1,500 fragments of SARS-CoV-2’s viral proteins, called epitopes, that have been found to be recognized by T cells in recovered COVID-19 patients or after vaccination. The team’s findings suggested that Omicron is unlikely to be able to evade T cells.

Even if Omicron, or some other variant for that matter, can potentially escape antibodies, a robust T cell response can still be expected to offer protection and help to prevent significant illness, according to the research team.

The team anticipated that T cell responses elicited by vaccines and boosters will continue to help protect people against Omicron and other variants.