Top World Health Organization (WHO) scientists said the new Omicron COVID-19 variant could replace the delta variant that emerged earlier this year. Meanwhile, researchers recently announced that Omicron may have picked up a genetic material from a cold.
WHO’s Soumya Swaminathan said it is not yet clear whether Omicron is milder than other variants of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, including Delta, but casts doubt on whether it appeared in southern Africa. ing.
“It could be: [the] Swaminasan added at a Reuters event announced over the weekend that it is impossible for scientists to make that prediction. According to her, delta mutations account for 99% of COVID-19 cases worldwide.
Nonetheless, Swaminasan said that Omicron, so named by WHO over a week ago, is “very contagious” based on preliminary data from southern Africa. WHO argued over the naming of the variant Omicron and skipped the naming of the Greek letter “Xi”.
“How worried should we be? According to Reuters, the situation is different than it was a year ago, so don’t panic, you need to be prepared and careful,” he said. She also said that the effects of Omicron on vaccinated people and individuals who had acquired innate immunity from previous COVID-19 infections are unknown.
In a preliminary study, researchers said on December 3 that Omicron was the only CCP viral variant containing an “insertion mutation” called ins214EPE, most likely of human genome or viral origin.
Later, in a pre-print study, researchers found an insertion mutation in a person who was co-infected with SARS-CoV-2, also known as the CCP virus, and the HCoV-229E coronavirus, which can cause a common cold. I theorized that it may have been done.
“Omicron insertions may have evolved in co-infected individuals,” said a research team led by Benky Soundara Rajan, a company based in Cambridge, Massachusetts that analyzes biomedical information. rice field.
To date, more than 20 cases of Omicron have been reported in the United States, but no deaths associated with new mutants have been reported worldwide. Last week, South Africa’s top doctor revealed to Media Blitz that patients with Omicron have generally had “very mild” symptoms so far.
However, Swaminasan told Reuters that there is no conclusive evidence that Omicron is a milder variant compared to the delta or alpha strains.
“It looks like we can overcome some of the innate immunity from previous infections,” said a UN health agency official. “The fact that they aren’t sick … that means the vaccine still provides protection, and we hope they continue to provide protection,” Swami Nasan said.
Since then, the United States, the European Union, and various countries have imposed travel bans on several countries in southern Africa, and Japan and Israel have banned all foreign travel over the emergence of this variant.
Tom Ozimek contributed to this report.