omicron ‘most mutated virus we’d ever seen – Cleveland, Ohio

Cleveland, Ohio 2021-12-04 08:21:32 –

The Omicron variant of COVID-19 is the latest “variant of concern” identified by the World Health Organization. (Oli Scarff / AFP via Getty Images)

(NEXSTAR) – There’s still a lot we don’t know about the Omicron variant of COVID-19 (new coronavirus infection), It is beginning to spread all over the world and has been detected many times here in the United States. There are signs from South Africa. Can cause a variety of symptoms – But it’s too early to draw broad conclusions. It is also not yet clear if it is better at avoiding vaccine protection than previous variants.

But there is one thing we continue to hear from scientists who have scrutinized the Omicron version of the virus. It’s really mutated.

“This is probably the most mutated virus we’ve ever seen,” said Alex Sigal. CBS News.. Sigal leads a team of researchers working to learn more about Omicron.

Lawrence Young, a virologist at the University of Warwick, described Omicron as “the most mutated version I’ve ever seen.”

Increasing mutations does not necessarily make the virus dangerous. “In principle, Mutations can also work against each otherSeattle’s evolutionary biologist Jesse Bloom told The New York Times.

However, viruses, like other organisms, evolve over time to increase their chances of survival. Of course, more powerful viruses are generally bad news for our people. So scientists are initially worried when they see a highly mutated virus.

Of the many mutations in Omicron, about 30 are part of a virus called the spike protein. This is relevant to scientists as it can affect the infectivity of the mutant.

Sharon Peacock, who led the sequence of COVID-19 in the UK at the University of Cambridge, suggests that previous data have mutations that are “consistent with increased transmissibility” in the new mutants. “Many of the mutations are not yet known for their importance.”

However, well-studied scientists have also found that Omicron is highly contagious because it lacks some of the mutations that Delta has. Omicron may never take off, as the delta mutant, which is currently the predominant strain in the United States, may still be more contagious than Omicron.

“That’s a really big question. When entering a population that has a delta, does it compete or not?” Robert Gary, a virologist at Tulane University, said. CNN..

In addition to mutations that make Omicron more contagious, scientists are also looking for mutations that can cause more serious illnesses and make it easier to avoid vaccines.

“Currently, there is no information to suggest that the symptoms associated with Omicron differ from other variants,” the World Health Organization said. There is still no evidence that COVID vaccines, tests, and treatments are ineffective against Omicron.

Some experts say that all of Omicron’s mutations may mean that vaccine makers may one day have to adapt their products. I still don’t know that.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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