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Can Omicron overcome the Delta COVID-19 variant? Scientists seek answers – National

As scientists race to understand the consequences of Omicron COVID-19 variant, one of the most important questions is whether this new version of the coronavirus can overcome global domination. Delta variant.

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NS World Health Organization on Friday designated Omicron as a “variant of interest” just days after it was first reported in southern Africa. The WHO says it is working with many researchers worldwide to better understand how this variant will impact the COVID-19 pandemic, with new findings expected within “several days”. and several weeks”.

Read more:

Omicron COVID-19 variant poses ‘very high’ risk globally, WHO warns

Many questions remain, including whether Omicron evades vaccine protection and whether it causes more serious disease. But such traits would be of less concern if the new variant remained relatively few.

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Several disease experts interviewed by Reuters said there were strong grounds to believe that Omicron would make the vaccine less effective. Omicron shares some key mutations with the two previous variants, Beta and Gamma, making them less susceptible to vaccines. In addition, Omicron has 26 unique mutations, many of them in regions targeted by vaccine antibodies.

However, within a few months, Delta went viral much faster than any of its predecessors.

“So the real question is how transmittable is Omicron compared to Delta. That’s the main thing we need to know,” said John Moore, professor of microbiology and immunology at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York.


Click to play video:'COVID-19: How Omicron Variation Could Affect Hospitalization Rates in Canada'







COVID-19: How Omicron Variation Could Affect Hospitalization Rates in Canada


COVID-19: How Omicron Variation Could Affect Hospitalization Rates in Canada

Experts say it could well be one of the ultimate answers. South African officials have sounded the alarm about Omicron after identifying only dozens of cases of this variant.

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Scientists will be closely watching whether Omicron-caused cases reported on public databases begin to replace Delta-caused cases. That could take anywhere from three to six weeks, experts say, depending on how fast the variant moves.

More information will come faster. Within two weeks, “we’ll be better at handling the severity of the disease,” said Dr. Peter Hotez, a vaccine expert and professor of virology and microbiology at the College of Medicine. Baylor said. “We’re hearing different reports – some saying it’s a very mild illness and others (reporting) some serious cases in South African hospitals.”

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In a similar time frame, the researchers say they expect answers soon on whether Omicron can avoid vaccine protection. Initial data will come from laboratory tests of blood samples from vaccinated people or laboratory animals, which analyze antibodies in the sample after exposure to the new variant.

“There are a lot of labs actively looking to create the Omicron virus and test its antibody sensitivity, and that will take weeks,” says Moore.

David Ho, a professor of microbiology and immunology at Columbia University in New York, believes that Omicron will show significant levels of resistance, based on the location of its mutations in the virus’ mutant protein. .

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“Vaccine antibodies that target three regions of the coronavirus spike, and Omicron has mutations in all three of them,” Ho said. “Our technical experts are much more worried than the public health experts because of what we know from the structural analysis” of Omicron.


Click to play video:'COVID-19: South Africa calls for calm over international response to Omicron variant'







COVID-19: South Africa calls for calm before international response to variant Omicron


COVID-19: South Africa calls for calm before international response to variant Omicron

Others note that earlier variants, such as Beta, also have mutations that make vaccines less effective, but those vaccines still help prevent severe illness and death. Even if the neutralizing antibodies caused by the vaccine become less effective, they say, other components of the immune system called T cells and B cells will be able to compensate. .

“Getting vaccinated can still keep you out of the hospital,” says John Wherry, director of the Penn Institute of Immunology in Philadelphia.

Michael Osterholm: an infectious disease specialist at the University of Minnesota.

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Columbia’s David Ho said the fact that Omicron has spread in the presence of Delta, “outcompeting all other variants, is concerning.”

But others insist that remains an open question.

When it comes to specific mutations that can help Omicron spread, it “doesn’t look too different from Alpha or Delta,” says Hotez.


https://globalnews.ca/news/8409499/omicron-delta-covid-19-variant-spread-analysis/ Can Omicron overcome the Delta COVID-19 variant? Scientists seek answers – National

PaulLeBlanc

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