The Omicron variant could well downgrade the Delta variant as the dominant strain of the coronavirus in the world within a few months. Little scientific data exists for the moment on the danger of this new enemy, but experts call for calm and patience.
Omicron is not a subvariation of Delta, but a brand new strain from the original Wuhan variant. More than thirty mutations have been identified on the spicule of the Omicron variant, making it the most different variant from the initial strain to date.
Several of these mutations have already been identified on other variants, or on laboratory extrapolations. “We do not know how, in real life, this precise combination of mutations will affect transmission and especially virulence,” observes the specialist in the evolution of microbial populations at McGill University, Jesse Shapiro.
He estimates that “months” will be needed to determine the real danger of Omicron. “You have to wait until people get infected and go to the hospital, and find out if they die or not. “
The few preliminary information from South Africa is encouraging. Hundreds of South Africans have reported suffering from headaches, fatigue or an elevated heart rate, but none appear to have lost their sense of taste or smell, yet one of the symptoms associated with COVID -19.
The specialist who first identified this strain, Dr. Angelique Coetzee, told several South African newspapers that the symptoms were “very different and very mild compared to those of other patients” affected by the other variants. According to her, the health authorities of the countries “panic unnecessarily” around this variant discovered in southern Africa.
Scientists were quick to undertake research to establish its ability to bypass the protection conferred by the vaccine, as well as its ability to re-infect individuals already affected by COVID-19. It is clear that Omicron could “partially escape” current vaccines, says Shapiro. “It is very unlikely that there is a complete escape, that is to say that the vaccines do not provide any protection against this variant. “
He joins the other health authorities who call for patience and calm. “It’s not a new virus. We don’t start over. It’s the same SARS-CoV-2 virus. Let’s continue to get vaccinated. Let’s continue to hide ourselves. Let us continue to be concerned about air quality. “
This text is taken from our newsletter “The Coronavirus Mail” of November 29, 2021. To subscribe, click here.