The first scientist to detect a new Omicron variant worried about anomalous mutation rates


Scientists who first detected a new strain of the COVID-19 virus variant said on Friday that they were concerned about how quickly it appeared to accumulate an abnormal mutation pattern.

Doctor Sikhulile Moyo, A researcher at Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, director of the Botswana Harvard HIV Reference Laboratory, said he raises further questions about how Omicron has evolved and how contagious it is.

so briefing, Moyo, the virus usually does not accumulate mutations in one step, but the lack of proper sequencing of the coronavirus makes it difficult for scientists to understand how quickly new mutants were developed. I explained.

“We are still trying to understand how many mutations have occurred in Omicron in a short period of time,” said Dr. Moyo. “Looking at the previous strains, looking at the alpha, looking at the beta, we can see that mutations are accumulating over time.”

With the advent of Omicron, public health authorities are at stake, and many countries impose travel bans and other restrictions accordingly.

Meanwhile, researchers will understand the nature of the emergence of new mutants, how potentially they can be transmitted, and whether they are milder mutants than alpha or delta strains. It is said that. distortion.

A researcher led by Venky Soundararajan of Nference, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who analyzes biomedical information, said in a preliminary study released on December 3, one of dozens of mutations in Omicron was mutated. The body causes a genetic material from another virus, perhaps a common cold, which makes the new strain more contagious, but can have a milder effect.

Researchers hypothesize that insertion mutations may have occurred in people who were co-infected with SARS-CoV-2, also known as the CCP virus, and the HCoV-229E coronavirus, which can cause the common cold. I proposed it.

However, with the competing hypothesis that Omicron may have taken some time to evolve in animal hosts, researchers further to confirm their effects on the origin and function and transmissibility of Omicron mutations. He said that research is needed.

Another theory is that strain Individuals with advanced HIV The Covid-19 infection lasted for more than 200 days, but Moyo said there was no evidence to support it.

Doctors said it was most similar when he first sequenced a sample of the new variant. B.1.1.263, Known as the UAE strain, was first detected in early April 2020. However, after scrutinizing the variant, Moyo said he confirmed that the strain had few mutations and determined that it was similar.

A man in a protective suit was sent to Narita International Airport on the first day of the closed border on November 30, 2021 to prevent the spread of new Omicron variants during the outbreak in Narita, eastern Tokyo, Japan. Head to the bus stop. Kim Jeong Hoon / Reuters)
Traveler queue
Travelers arrived at the check-in counter at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa on November 27, 2021, after several countries banned flights from South Africa following the discovery of the new COVID-19 variant Omicron. Make a line. (Phill Magakoe / AFP via Getty Images)

Moyo and his team shared their findings in an international database on November 23, he said, and just a few hours later, another group in South Africa reported similar findings. Another group of researchers in Hong Kong reported similar findings shortly thereafter.

Moyo initially believed that the new Omicron mutant was a weak virus with minimal side effects, but because of its ability to replicate quickly and evade parts of the immune system, the risk of reinfection is much higher. Said it was expensive.

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.

“When the data comes in, I hope people will go back to the freezer and pick up the old samples,” Moyo said. “Some scientists did just that, and discovered that the Omicron strain was already circulating as early as October.”

Meanwhile, World Health Organization (WHO) chief scientists say the new Omicron variant may replace the Delta variant, but it’s still unclear whether it’s milder than other CCP virus variants. It was not clear on December 3rd.

“It could be: [the] Swaminasan added at a Reuters event that it is impossible for scientists to make that prediction. According to her, delta mutations account for 99% of COVID-19 cases worldwide.

“How worried should we be? According to Reuters, we’re in a different situation than it was a year ago, so we don’t have to panic, we need to be prepared and careful.”

However, Swaminasan told Reuters that there is no conclusive evidence that Omicron is a milder variant than the Delta or Alpha strains.

“It seems that it 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.

Catabella Roberts


Katabella Roberts is a reporter currently based in Turkey. She focuses primarily on the United States and covers the news and business of The Epoch Times.