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What we know about the Omicron COVID-19 variant

South African scientists say that some of the mutations are associated with increased resistance and transmissibility to neutralizing antibodies, while others were not well understood.

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The World Health Organization on Friday classified the first detected B.1.1.529 mutant known as Omicron in South Africa as SARS-CoV-2 “mutant of concern”. Here’s what we know so far:

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When and where did you find the new variant?

South African scientists detected a small number of variants known as B.1.1.529 on Tuesday in samples taken from 14 November to 16 November.

On Wednesday, South African scientists sequenced more genomes, informed the government of their concerns, and called on the World Health Organization to convene a technical working group on viral evolution on Friday.

The country has identified about 100 subspecies from Gauteng, the most populous state, primarily in Johannesburg and Pretoria.

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Why are scientists worried?

All viruses, including SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, change over time. Most changes have little or no effect on those properties.

However, some changes can affect the ease with which they can spread, their severity, or the performance of the vaccine against them.

According to UK health officials, this variant has been specifically scrutinized due to the presence of more than 30 variants in the spike protein that the virus uses to invade human cells.

This is about twice the number of delta variants, which is significantly different from the original coronavirus designed to counter the current COVID vaccine.

Travelers will line up in the area for the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) COVID-19 test at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg on November 27, 2021.
Travelers will line up in the area for the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) COVID-19 test at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg on November 27, 2021. Photo courtesy of Phille Magakoe / AFP / /Getty

South African scientists say that some of the mutations are associated with increased resistance and transmissibility to neutralizing antibodies, but other mutations are not well understood and are of full importance. Gender is not yet clear.

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Susan Hopkins, chief medical adviser to the UK Health Security Agency, told BBC Radio that some mutations had not been seen before, so she did not know how to interact with other mutations and has seen it so far. He said it was the most complex variant ever made.

Therefore, more tests are needed to see if it is more contagious, infectious, or if the vaccine can be avoided.

The work will take weeks, WHO technical leader Maria Van Kerhob said Thursday. Meanwhile, vaccines continue to be an important tool for containing the virus.

According to the National Institute of Infectious Diseases (NICD) in South Africa, no abnormal symptoms have been reported after infection with the B.1.1.529 variant, and like other variants, some are asymptomatic.

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Where else were the variants detected?

South African scientists say early signs from diagnostic laboratories suggest that it spreads rapidly in Gauteng and may already be present in the other eight states of the country. ..

Daily infections in South Africa almost doubled to 2,465 on Thursday. Local scientists suspect it was the cause, but NICD did not attribute the resurrection to a new variant.

Neighboring Botswana said it had found four incidents. All foreigners arrived at the diplomatic mission and then left the country.

The Hong Kong government said late Thursday that it had two cases, one identified by a traveler from South Africa and one who traveled from Canada and was quarantined in a hotel room opposite.

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A surge in countries around the world, including the United States, Canada, Australia, Thailand, Brazil, and some European countries, has banned banned flights from southern Africa following the discovery of variants. (Phill Magakoe / AFP via Getty Images)
A surge in countries around the world, including the United States, Canada, Australia, Thailand, Brazil, and some European countries, has banned banned flights from southern Africa following the discovery of variants. (Phill Magakoe / AFP via Getty Images)

Israel also has one traveler returning from Malawi in southern Africa, but Belgium has detected the first case in Europe.

Scientists say early detection by genomic surveillance in Botswana and South Africa may have limited the spread of the variant.

The international GISAID open database of coronavirus variants contains 58 cases of B.1.1.529 registered in South Africa, 6 cases in Botswana, and 2 cases in Hong Kong.

This variant is relatively easy to distinguish from the Delta variant, the predominant and most infectious COVID-19 variant so far, in PCR tests. Unlike the delta variant, there is a mutation called the S gene dropout.

However, this is not a unique identifier because the Alpha variant first identified in the UK also has that mutation.

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How will the World Health Organization label change?

A UN agency said on Friday that its adviser recommended that the variant be designated as one of the most serious levels of concern, and was named Omicron in Greek.

The latter label is named in Greek, with evidence that it is more contagious or more toxic, or that the vaccine does not work well against it, or has a combination of those characteristics. It applies if you have one, says the WHO website.

WHO has identified four other concerns: alpha, beta, gamma and delta.

The main countries subject to closure include South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini (Swaziland), Lesoto, Namibia, Zambia, Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe.
The main countries subject to closure include South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini (Swaziland), Lesoto, Namibia, Zambia, Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe. Photo courtesy of Phille Magakoe / AFP / /Getty

I have specified two variants as of interest. This is the next level. Lambda, identified in Peru in December 2020, and Mu, identified in Colombia in January.

This means that there have been genetic changes that are predicted or known to affect the characteristics of the virus, such as infectivity, severity of the disease, and the ability to avoid vaccines and drugs.

It also causes significant community infections or multiple COVID-19 clusters in multiple countries, with new risks to public health as the number of cases increases and the relative prevalence increases over time. It means that there is.

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What we know about the Omicron COVID-19 variant

Source link What we know about the Omicron COVID-19 variant

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