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Omicron coronavirus mutants can cause a worldwide wave of covid-19 cases

It is unclear whether Omicron coronavirus variants cause less severe illnesses, but even so, hospitals can be overwhelmed by a huge number of cases.


December 6, 2021

Healthcare workers at the covid-19 test site in Cape Town, South Africa

Dwayne Sr./Bloomberg via Getty Images

Evidence is increasing New Omicron variant Coronavirus can spread rapidly to populations that are immune to other coronavirus variants. It has already reached many countries and seems ready to cause a huge wave of infections around the world.

The big unknown is whether Omicron is more or less likely to cause severe illness or death. Alice Katzorakis He at Oxford University is very skeptical that mutations in the variant may lead to a reduction in severity, but says it’s too early to tell.

“We are all worried,” says Katzourakis. “We are out of breath and waiting.”

Cases are increasing further in South Africa, where the variant was first detected Faster than previous waves, The case number doubles every 3-4 days.

The rapid spread in South Africa does not necessarily reflect what happens in other countries. NS Beta What caused the second wave in South Africa did not cause similar waves in other countries. However, there are signs that Omicron is already widespread in other countries.

For example, in the United Kingdom, so-called S gene dropouts are increasing rapidly in PCR tests. This is a phenomenon that occurs when there is a mutation in the gene of the virus. Spike protein.. This may be due to Omicron.Denmark doing many sequences has already detected About 200 cases Of covid-19 caused by omicron.

The main reason Omicron spreads so fast seems to be that it is good at avoiding previous immunity.South African researchers discovered it The risk of reinfection is much higher With omicron.This suggests that vaccinated people are also at much higher risk of getting infected. delta, And the first case report confirms this. For example, of the 11 Omicron cases in Israel so far, six are cases of people who have been vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine three times.

In addition to being able to Avoid immunity, Omicron may be more contagious than Delta in nature. This is still uncertain, but there are already three reports of superspreading events where a very high percentage of people were infected at the party. Norway, Denmark When England..

Fortunately, people infected despite vaccinations or previous infections are expected to be less likely to be more severe than those without prior immunity, such as Delta. This is while Omicron may be able to avoid the antibody Avoiding immune cells called T cells is much more difficult Helps get rid of virus infections. Also, although it is mainly available in high-income countries, there are now much better treatments.

How well vaccination or previous infections are protected from serious illness, and prior immunity, due to delays between those who become infected, become seriously ill, recover or die.

At a press conference on December 3rd Wasilla Jasat South Africa’s National Institute of Infectious Diseases said South Africa has already seen a surge in hospitalizations for all age groups. In particular, children under the age of 5 were the second largest group after people over the age of 60.

We are waiting for the fare for those who are in the hospital.A hospital in South Africa Less than normal covid-19 patients needed oxygen As of December 2, I warned that it was too early to reach a conclusion.

If only a small percentage of people infected with Omicron become more severe than their previous variants, but it infects a large number of people, Hospitals can still be overwhelmed.

“We hope that our previous immunity will be protected from serious consequences, but we are very worried about the magnitude of the epidemic wave in the United States and around the world.” Tweet Trevor Bedford At the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.

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Omicron coronavirus mutants can cause a worldwide wave of covid-19 cases

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