Three cases of the ommicron variant of COVID-19 have been confirmed in three Washington counties.
Virus samples from the three positive ommicron cases of COVID-19 in Washington are now in the hands of scientists in a super-safe, Level 3 containment lab at UW Medicine’s research center in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood.
“Do current vaccination antibodies protect against omicron?” said Dr. Michael Gale on the upcoming experiments. Gale is co-director of the UW Medical School for Emerging and Infectious Diseases and director of the Center for Innate Immunity and Immune Disease. His department also works with the National Institutes of Health.
At the lab in Seattle, samples of the virus can be grown and replicated for a series of experiments that will show how well we are protected by vaccines or not.
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“We’re asking if antibodies from people who have been vaccinated can neutralize the virus in culture. And if they can, it shows us that it gives us vaccine protection against omicron,” Gale said.
He said the 17,000-square-foot lab was built six years ago to study dangerous viruses and has been attended by many research scientists. Gale said the facility, which is one of the largest in the country, is now fully used for research into COVID-19. He said there are very few labs like this on this scale.
Researchers at UW Medicine are also in close contact with scientists from South Africa who first discovered the ommicron variant.
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