Hospitalizations decline in the most recent figures released by the San Diego Human Health Services Agency. 

On Monday, the number of hospitalizations decreased by 12 people to 1,297, according to the latest state data, and of those patients, 227 were in intensive care. As of Sunday, there were 5,482 new COVID-19 cases and 20 deaths.

There were 10,192 cases identified Friday and 7,173 cases Saturday, bringing the county's cumulative total to 662,504 cases and 4,586 deaths since the pandemic began.

Count health officials asked residents to visit emergency departments for COVID-19 testing only if severe symptoms are present to alleviate the strain placed on local hospitals. 

Vaccination, along with other personal protection procedures, is encouraged by health officials in fighting the Omicron variant to prevent the disease, reduce symptoms, and decrease the likelihood of hospitalization.

In California, anyone aged five and older may receive a vaccine regardless of immigration status. Booster shots are now available for everyone 12 and older.

As of Jan.19, over 2.83 million, or 90.0 percent of eligible San Diegans, are at least partially vaccinated. About 79.5 percent of the eligible population are fully vaccinated. 

A new study from researchers at the La Jolla Institute for Immunology, published recently in the medical journal Cell, found that the Omicron variant significantly reduced antibody response. With the highly infectious Omicron variant, antibodies are 42 percent effective at preventing infection compared to the other variants. 

According to researchers, incorporating additional elements eliciting broader T cell responses directed towards more conserved targets into vaccine strategies may be considered as a means to increase vaccine effectiveness against future variants. 

A cohort of 96 adults vaccinated with different vaccines was used to determine the longevity of T cell cross-recognition of all COVID-19 variants. Researchers studied samples from four different time points: two weeks after the first dose of vaccination, two weeks after the second dose, three and a half months, and up to six months after the last vaccination dose received. 

According to the paper, researchers found that T cells remained more than 80 percent effective against Omicron.

“Functional preservation of the majority of T cell responses may play an important role as second-level defenses against diverse variants,” researchers wrote in the study. 

Antibodies are large Y-shaped proteins that recognize and latch onto antigens in order to remove them from the body. T cells are a type of leukocyte, or white blood cell, that are part of the immune system that focuses on specific foreign particles and recognizes pieces of viruses when pathogens infect previously healthy cells. 

“These data provide a reason for optimism, as most vaccine-elicited T cell responses remain capable of recognizing all known SARS-CoV-2 variants. Nevertheless, the data also underline the need for continued surveillance and the potential danger posed by continued variant evolution that could result in further reduction of T cell responses,” the study read. 

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