Just as the world is adapting to a life with the Coronavirus and world economies are adjusting to the recent realities, the another variant of COVID-19 creeps in.
It should be recalled that TheNewsBeam had earlier reported that the new COVID-19 variant was detected by South African scientists during the week.
While it is not so surprising for new variants of the virus to crop up, scientists have particularly raised concerns about this new one.
Scientists around the globe are working tirelessly to find out more about the new variant, thus, information about it are a bit sketchy.
Below are, however, key things to be aware of about the new variant.
The New Variant, B.1.1.529, is named Omicron.
So far, it has been detected in three countries, which are South Africa, Hongkong, Belgium.
3. DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE NEW VARIANT, AND THE EXISTING ONES?
A statement made available on the official website of the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) of South Africa explains that “While the B.1.1.529 lineage shares a few common mutations with the C.1.2, Beta and Delta variants, it also has several additional mutations. Presently, the B.1.1.529 lineage is relatively distinct from the C.1.2, Beta and Delta variants and has a different evolutionary pathway”.
Cases recorded shows that it shares similar symptoms with the existing variants.
5. IS THERE A CAUSE FOR ALARM?
Scientists have noted that this variant is more contagious than the earlier detected ones. With the high number of mutations, the new variant is also said to be one that spreads really fast.
Speaking with the CNN, Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health, explained that the new variant was “acting differently,” adding that “it looks like it’s much more contagious than even the Delta variant.”
Professor Lawrence Young, a virologist in the United Kingdom, also said the Omicron variant, “is the most heavily mutated version of the virus we have seen to date. This variant carries some changes we’ve seen previously in other variants but never all together in one virus. It also has novel mutations,”
Speaking in a press conference, South Africa’s renowned bioinformatician, Professor Tulio de Oliveira, also backed Young up. He said “What we see is this very unusual constellation of mutations, multiple mutations across the genome with more than 30 mutations.”
Infectious Diseases Specialist, Dr Richard Lessells, who spoke at the same press conference added: “When this variant was detected, we [could] see this large number of mutations across all the different proteins of this virus”.
While some of them are familiar, many of them are not. “We see a lot of mutations in the spike protein that might affect how well the virus is neutralised”.
Leswell also said: “And all these things are what gives us some concern that this variant might have not just enhanced transmissibility so spread more efficiently, but might also be able to get around parts of the of the immune system and the protection that we have in our immune system.
6. WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?
Observe the existing protocols and embrace all non-pharmaceutical interventions. It is important to also get vaccinated.
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