Virologist around Omicron: This is a superior mutant, 500 times more contagious

– Mutation number made Omikron a super variable. It contains 50 mutations, 32 of which relate to the S spike protein itself, and 10 involve changes in the direct recognition site of the human cell receptor by the coronavirus spike. All this means that the O variant may be so different from previous versions that it is recognized not only by cytotoxic cells and antibodies that arose after infection with previous variants of coronaviruses, but also after vaccination – said the professor. Agnieszka Szuster-Ciesielska.

She added that three main questions that need to be answered quickly are: Is this variant more contagious, more contagious, and is it able to bypass our defenses after vaccination and infection with previous variants. This new variant was first identified on November 11 in Botswana, then in Australia, Israel, and today we have it on the doorstep – in Belgium, Germany, the Czech Republic and Italy. Is it already in Poland? It is only a matter of time. On the other hand, all those who were identified with Omikron were recently in Africa and probably brought him from there – she indicated.

I remembered that this is the fifth variant, after Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta, worthy of such a name. – Now the whole scientific world will watch him closely, study him, because so little is known about him so far. We have oral reports from different scientists that it appears to be more contagious (up to 500 times) and evade the immune system response compared to previous mutations – said the professor. Zoster Sisselska.

However, she noted, this requires searching for larger groups. – On the other hand, what bothers and confirms the high infection rate is the fact that in South Africa, where it started, Omikron has already begun to replace the delta variant. The first information from African doctors was published yesterday – the symptoms of the disease are relatively mild. Also, there was no loss of smell and taste in previous versions of the virus. She added that this, however, still needs to be confirmed.

When asked about the sources of the new variant, she said that there is a hypothesis that it could have arisen in a person infected with the Corona virus, which he could not eliminate due to a weak immune system. This gave the virus ample time to mutate to avoid the host’s defensive reactions. As you know, many people in South Africa are infected with HIV, which weakens immunity. Perhaps it was in such a person that the virus could live longer. In any case, a similar hypothesis has been confirmed in the past with a beta variant that originated in the UK in a woman who had been carrying the coronavirus for several months. This is what gave the virus time to change, she said.

In regards to how quickly this species took hold of Europe, she said its expansion appears to be very fast. – Please note that the reaction of the international community was swift. Flights to and from Africa have already been suspended, and tourism has been drastically reduced. Israel was the first country in the world to completely close its borders to foreigners. Great Britain closed its borders to travelers from 10 African countries. British nationals returning from there must be quarantined for 10 days at a hotel designated by the authorities. Of course, it is not known whether all people with Omicron can be caught. We remember that this epidemic began in the Chinese city of Wuhan, which is also very far from us, but nevertheless this original type of SARS-CoV-2 virus spread quickly, she said.

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