Omicron variant's properties keep 'surprising', experts claim

WION Web Team
London, United Kingdom Published: Dec 21, 2021, 03:24 PM(IST)

Coronavirus Omicron is believed to be the most infectious yet because it binds better to human receptors than Delta. Photograph:( AFP )

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Since the detection of Omicron variant, experts have been rushing to identify symptoms, effect and vaccine efficiency for this variant. However, the variant keeps on surprising

Several nations across the world are struggling to control the rapid spread of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus. While some countries are reimplementing Covid regulations, others are hoping it would pass away by vaccination. Amid all this chaos, scientists are still 'surprised' by properties of Omicron variant.

The new variant of coronavirus was detected by scientific experts of African countries and reported in the first few weeks of December 2021. Since then, experts have been rushing to identify symptoms, effect and vaccine efficiency for this variant. However, the variant keeps on surprising.

Also read | Omicron: Within a week, the strain increased from 3% to 73% of US COVID cases

Professor Ravi Gupta, a member of the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG) told a western media house, Sky News, that even after almost a month of discovering this new variant, scientists are still learning ‘all the time’ about Omicron and its properties.

"Some experiments that have been done in different groups are suggesting that the virus has kind of altered the way it infects cells,” Gupta said. "This is again potentially due to some mutations that have occurred, and there may, and this is a big caveat, there may be a slightly different profile for this virus [compared to Delta]."

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"Nonetheless, even if it were a little bit milder, in a very broad sense, the sheer numbers of cases would still translate into some individuals becoming quite sick. We're not anticipating that this virus, because of these changes, is going to suddenly become harmless. I think that shouldn't be the interpretation of the work that we and others are doing," he added. "But what we are saying is that we are learning about the virus all the time."

He also warned that looking at the doubling rate of the Omicron variant, it is highly possible that the health facilities might be overwhelmed soon. "Even if the vaccines protect us to a significant degree, then the increased transmissibility and penetration of the virus into communities that we're seeing already is putting a large amount of pressure (on the NHS) because a very small fraction of a very large number still translates to significant numbers being hospitalised," he said.

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