Home Health Omicron, what do we know about the variant? High ability to infect, but mutations are unknown

Omicron, what do we know about the variant? High ability to infect, but mutations are unknown

by admin

Beyond a few reliable data on the Omicron, there are fundamental questions about this variant of the virus SarsCoV2 who do not yet have answers, such as those relating to his ability to escape vaccines and whether or not to cause a severe form of the disease. First identified a month ago, on November 22, 2021 in the laboratories of Botswana e South Africa who were analyzing samples of the virus taken between 11 and 16 November, the variant quickly gained worldwide attention. On November 24, in fact, South Africa reported it to the World Health Organization (WHO), which already on November 28 was talking about a “race against time” to be able to stem it.

Omicron runs between 20-30 year olds and in big cities, WHO: “We don’t know yet if it causes more serious disease”

Covid, EMA: extremely worrying situation but we are better prepared than a year ago

Omicron variant in 78 countries

At the moment we know that there are 78 countries in which it is present and that in one month there have been over 19,100 genetic sequences of Omicron deposited in the international database Gisaid. We also know that the new variant is becoming prevalent in some countries: currently there are at least 15 in which Omicron is present in most of the genetic sequences deposited; in six of these countries Omicron has already reached 100% of the sequences, replacing the Delta.

It is also clear that the variant has a high ability to infect, between 3 and 7 times higher than the Delta variant. And Omicron is also known to include 32 mutations and a high ability to infect Spike, which the virus uses as a claw to attack cells. “Of these mutations, about a quarter were known as they are also present in the Delta variant and three quarters are completely new”, observes geneticist Massimo Zollo, of the Federico II University of Naples and coordinator of the Covid-19 Task Force of Ceinge- Advanced biotechnologies.

See also  NASA returns to the Moon half a century later, but this time it's to stay there

What we don’t know

Among the things we do not yet know about the new variant is the role of mutations present in genome regions other than that of proteina Spike which is usually considered and which, Zollo notes, “constitutes just 2% of the virus genome”. Knowing how other regions of the virus have changed could provide, for example, important information for research into new drugs and vaccines.

As for the vaccines, another big question is about their ability to counter Omicron. Many studies are underway and preliminary data now available seem to indicate that infections are not avoided. It remains to be seen whether and to what extent the third dose of the vaccine is able to block Omicron and in this regard there are not enough data to draw conclusions.

One also wonders how long it takes for Omicron to replicate, i.e. how often the cases caused by this variant double, and at the moment the prevailing hypothesis indicates 2 to 3 days. No definitive data even on the speed with which the variant infects the human cell and it remains to be clarified, finally, if and how many people already affected by other variants can reinfect themselves.


You may also like

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More

Privacy & Cookies Policy