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Ómicron: keys to the new variant of the coronavirus detected in South Africa | International

The announcement in South Africa of the detection of a new variant of the coronavirus, identified as Ómicron and that presents multiple mutations, this Friday unleashed a wave of international concern.

This, despite the relatively low number of cases identified to date, which advises be clear about your keys.

While the experts of the World Health Organization (WHO) meet this Friday to analyze the implications of this new variant.

These are the main characteristics, determined so far, of the B.1.1.529, According to scientists from South Africa, which on Thursday was the first country to give the alert on its detection.

The large number of mutations in the Omicron variant

The new Omicron variant features “A very unusual constellation of mutations”, as admitted this Thursday when confirming the discovery by Professor Tulio de Oliveira.

It’s about the KwaZulu-Natal Research Innovation and Sequencing Platform (KRISP, a scientific institution in eastern South Africa).

In total, there are more than thirty mutations, among which there are some common to those already seen before in variants like beta or delta, but also some new ones whose impact is still unknown.

What symptoms does it present?

Although confirmed cases of this variant are still few (around a hundred), in South Africa, the country with the highest incidence to date, for the moment no differences were identified in terms of the effects of the disease compared to other variants.

“Currently there are no unusual symptoms reported from infection with the Omicron variant,” the South African National Institute of Infectious Diseases (NICD) said today in a frequently asked questions statement.

As with other variants, some individuals are asymptomatic ”, added.

EFE | EPA | Yeshiel Panchia

How will the vaccines react?

For now, since research is at a very early stage, it is unknown what impact this new variant could have on the transmissibility of the virus and its possible resistance to vaccines.

“Based on our understanding of mutations in this lineage, partial immunity evasion is likely, but it is likely that vaccines still offer high levels of protection against hospitalization and death ”, the NICD specifies.

South African scientists also point out that the new variant may be behind the rapid increase in cases detected.

These, especially in the populous province of Gauteng (where they are Johannesburg and Pretoria).

In addition, and as indicated by the experts, the data indicates that it is dominating the delta.

In which countries has the Omicron variant been detected?

South Africa was the first country to publicly raise the alarm on Thursday, with 22 cases identified (a figure later updated to 77).

The first confirmation in this country had occurred on November 23 according to collected samples at the middle of the month.

The new variant had also been identified in Botswana (4 cases) around the same dates and It was also detected in a traveler in Hong Kong (China) who had been to South Africa.

This Friday, Israel also announced the detection of the new variant in an infected person who had been to Malawi.


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