January 16, 2022

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Why do scientists worry about Omicron Variant much?

Why do scientists worry about Omicron Variant much?



 

Why do scientists worry about Omicron Variant much?

Recently, the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 has been discovered in many countries and has become the focus of world attention.

The Omicron variant is the latest coronavirus strain designated by the World Health Organization as a “variant of concern”.

Since its first discovery in South Africa, more and more countries have reported cases of this strain, and it contains an unusual combination of mutations.

May make it spread faster. Currently, scientists are trying to determine whether the current vaccines are effective.

 


Why do Scientists worry about Omicron Variant much?

Omicron carries a unique set of mutations. Compared with the rapidly spreading Delta variant, the virus may have an advantage in driving a surge of new infections.

Omicron may spread faster, and it seems to have evolved independently of the Delta variant.

Why do scientists worry about Omicron Variant much?

 

On November 27th, a team of scientific research teams at the Bambino Gesù hospital in Rome, Italy produced and released the world’s first three-dimensional image of Omicron.

It can be observed from the picture that, compared with the mutant strain Delta, the latest Omicron has more mutation sites, and most of them are concentrated on the spike protein.

Studies have shown that if the new coronavirus S protein has K417N, E484A or N501Y mutations, it indicates that the immune escape ability is enhanced; and the Omicron mutant strain also has a triple mutation of “K417N+E484A+N501Y”; in addition, there are many other possible reductions in the Omicron mutant strain.

Some monoclonal antibodies have mutations in neutralizing activity.

The superposition of mutations may reduce the protective efficacy of some antibody drugs against Omicron variants.

Recently, Merck of the United States (Merck) updated the complete data of its first approved COVID-19 oral drug Molnupiravir in the world: The effective rate of Molnupiravir in reducing the risk of hospitalization or death in patients has been reduced to 30%, which is much less than one.

The 90% announced more than a few months ago has made people more concerned about Omicron.

 

 


How long will it take to know if Omicron is more dangerous than other variants?

 

It may take several weeks to evaluate Omicron’s mixed mutations, and scientists will need to experiment with viruses and prostheses that mimic Omicron’s characteristic mutations.

At present, according to a statement from the White House, it will take about two weeks to obtain more precise information about the heritability, severity, and other characteristics of the mutant strain.

South Africa is one of the first countries to detect Omicron cases, and the infection rate and hospitalization rate have been rising in recent weeks.

The National Institute of Infectious Diseases has observed that the new variant does not seem to cause more severe or different symptoms.

If this situation continues, this may provide us with some comfort.

 

 


Are the current vaccines effective against Omicron?

Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and BioNTech are still investigating the impact of Omicron on the efficacy of their vaccines.

These companies stated that they are ready to change the vaccine to target Omicron.

If Omicron is determined to be a “vaccine escape variant,” Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech stated that they can produce a “customized vaccine” in about 100 days, subject to regulatory approval.

Moderna said that in addition to the other enhancement needles they have developed, its Omicron special enhancement needle may be tested in advance within three months.

 

 


Which countries have Omicron cases found?

 

The first known confirmed virus sample was collected on November 9 and was first reported to WHO from South Africa on November 24.

Currently, there are laboratories in at least 12 countries and regions:

Australia, Belgium, Botswana, Canada, China, Germany, Hong Kong, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, South Africa, and the United Kingdom-according to the GISAID database, at least one case of Omicron virus infection By.

 

 


Will Omicron affect the effectiveness of current new coronavirus drugs?

 

Both Merck and Ridgeback believe that molnupiravir “may be effective” for Omicron, but no specific studies have been conducted to verify its effectiveness.

Pfizer said its antiviral drug Paxlovid is effective against all known mutations, including Omicron.

Regeneron is the developer of REGEN-COV monoclonal antibodies. They said they are studying various “next generation” drug candidates for new variants, as well as potential new combinations of their monoclonal antibodies in clinical trials.

Vir and GSK companies stated that their monoclonal antibody sotrovimab is likely to remain active and effective against this variant, on the grounds that their drug design is aimed at the part of the virus that is “unlikely to mutate”.

The two companies are working hard. Confirm this in the laboratory.

 

 


Can the current test detect Omicron?

 

Currently, experts say that Omicron does not seem to compromise the accuracy of COVID-19 testing tests, including rapid antigen tests and widely used PCR tests.

Some tests even help improve the ability to track and investigate Omicron cases.

Unlike Delta mutation, the “S gene target failure” caused by Omicron cases is the same as the “S gene target failure” in the early alpha mutation infection positive test.

 

 

 

Reference:

Omicron: What we know — and don’t know — about the new COVID-19 variant

Why do scientists worry about Omicron Variant much?

(source:internet, reference only)


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