How bad is the omicron variant?

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this experiment: It is difficult to test transmission in the laboratory, so this is an experiment conducted in the real world. Researchers will use sequencing tests to track how many of the actual covid-19 cases they see are caused by omicron. If this percentage starts to increase, and if you see similar increases in different countries, it indicates that omicron is spreading faster.

This is what happened to the alpha variant that appeared in the UK in 2020. By December of that year, its proportion of cases in the United Kingdom continued to rise, and within a few months it began to dominate the number of cases in other parts of Europe in the United States. Later, Alpha was replaced by Delta. For these two strains, alpha and delta, it takes about four months from introducing them to explaining most of the cases. If omicron follows suit, it will become the dominant strain in March or April 2021.

“When we saw the replacement, it strongly hinted at the advantages of the gearbox,” Thiel said. “But if it only happens in one place, it may be accidental.” He said that the rise of omicron in South Africa alone does not prove whether the variant is more communicable.

how long: It may take a month or more to obtain definitive evidence of a higher transmission rate. This is because it takes about five to six days for a newly infected person to produce enough virus to infect others. In order to understand whether omicron is spreading faster, researchers need to observe multiple rounds of infection and spread.

If researchers extend the timeline backwards by sequencing old samples, this type of research can be accelerated. Doctors in Nigeria have stated that they have found omicron in a sample of covid-19 banks in the country. This can provide an early data point.

What’s next: It is not only the SARS-CoV-2 virus that has changed; the same is true of the human arena where the pandemic is taking place. Omicron will face a more diverse situation than any variant, including countries where almost everyone is vaccinated, countries where different vaccines are used, areas where most people have been infected with covid-19, and “zero virus” such as China and New Zealand. “nation. This means that omicron may occupy a place in some areas, but fail in other areas.

DCan omicron cause more serious diseases?

Worry: Initially, some South African doctors said that the symptoms caused by the new variant appeared to be milder, but then there were reports that more hospital beds were full. Currently, no one knows whether omicron will cause more severe symptoms.

The problem is that omicron is so new, most cases are only one or two weeks old, and covid-19 usually takes several weeks to cause serious problems or death. “It’s too early to talk about the severity of the disease. So far, we really can’t say anything,” said Christian Althaus, an epidemiologist in Bern.

this experiment: Measure the severity of the disease, Researchers can expose laboratory animals such as mice or monkeys to omicron, but the final answer will come from real-world human data, including doctor observations, hospital records, and deaths.

how long: Does omicron cause more serious illness or different symptoms? This may be the question that takes the longest time to answer-it may take several months.

Given all the uncertainties of omicron and the possibility that the vaccine may not work well, researchers are reminding the public of what they say will prevent the spread of any variants, such as isolation, social distancing, and wearing masks. “There is no variant that doesn’t work for these interventions,” Thiel said.

He also said that omicron is a sign of future development. “In the next few months or years, the situation will be very difficult. There will be new variants; we should expect this,” he said. “But the stock market should not react to all variants in a fearful way. This is the future and we will have to deal with it.”


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