As per a new preliminary study by researchers from Nference, the new Omicron variant may have picked up genetic material from the virus that causes common cold. Researchers suggest that is the reason why it can have lower virulence and greater transmission rate as compared to other coronavirus variants.
Researchers analysed and found out a snippet of genetic code that is also present in the virus that causes cold. This mutation could have occurred in patients infected with Covid-19. This is not detected in other variants of Coronavirus. This study (read below) has not been peer-reviewed and is in preprint.
The “striking” similarity between Omicron and HCoV-229E could have made the former “more accustomed to human hosts” and likely to evade some immune system responses, said Venky Soundararajan, a biological engineer who co-wrote the study.
“By virtue of omicron adopting this insertion … it is essentially taking a leaf out of the seasonal coronaviruses’ page, which [explains] … how it lives and transmits more efficiently with human beings,” he said.
Scientists said that SARS-CoV-2 can infect people who are afflicted by other variants of coronavirus. Soundararajan said, gastrointestinal systems and lung cells can host both viruses’ types.
The US. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that researchers are analysing how often people suffer from other respiratory issues and Covid. The main concern of the scientists is that its many mutations can make it more transmissible than other coronavirus variants.
Last year, researchers sequenced and analysed coronavirus and found its genetic code “mimics a protein” that controls fluid and salt balance in body. This development helped efforts to design drugs that combat transmission of the virus.
Soundararajan said, virus evolved to become transmissible and “loses” traits that may cause symptoms. More analysis of omicron is required before making a definitive conclusion. Further mutation of virus may happen due to unequal vaccine distribution on the global level.
According to the Botswana government Presidential (COVID-19) Task force press release, the first four Omicron cases in South Africa were all fully vaccinated individuals.
Even the first infection case of Omicron in the United States was a fully vaccinated Californian individual who was returning home from South Africa.
Contrary to what we’re told the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus results in only mild disease, without prominent symptoms, according to Angelique Coetzee, the chairwoman of the South African Medical Association.
“It presents mild disease with symptoms being sore muscles and tiredness for a day or two not feeling well. So far, we have detected that those infected do not suffer loss of taste or smell. They might have a slight cough. There are no prominent symptoms. Of those infected some are currently being treated at home”, Coetzee said.
According to top Russian virologist the Omicron variant could actually help bring the pandemic to an end.