According to researchers from the Cambridge, Mass., the new omicron variant may have emerged from the virus that is associated with the common cold which is why it is so easy to spread.
The study was preliminarily released yesterday and seems to suggest that the new COVID-19 variant is potentially much more transmissible than previously believed.
The data was released by a biomedical company known as Nference and reveals that omicron shares some similar genes with HCoV-229E, a coronavirus that causes symptoms of the common cold.
The researchers were able to find both viruses inside the gastrointestinal and respiratory tissues of infected people and concluded that the exchange of genetic material (“genomic interplay”) might have led to the mutation of the variant.
After all, there is no other Sars-coV-2 variant that has such cross-genetic material with the HCoV-229E virus so this study might really explain everything.
Furthermore, Nference compared omicron’s genetic material to other Sars-CoV-2 variants as well, one of them being the delta variant since it’s currently the dominant strain with which the world is dealing.
What they learned was that omicron hosts no less than 26 mutations that are distinct from the variant.
As you might be aware at this point, omicron was first discovered by scientists in South Africa on November 24.
It did not take a long time at all for this concerning variant to spread to many countries on six continents.
While for now, the CDC is yet to officially declare omicron as more transmissible and deadlier than delta, it makes sense that public health experts are alarmed given the fact that it managed to spread so much quicker than the dominant variant.
The United States is among the countries that are currently restricting travel from a number of South African countries to try and contain it as much as possible although over 20 cases have already been identified in the US at this time.
Knowing that in South Africa the number of daily cases jumped from around 2,000 on Thanksgiving, to over 11,000 in just a couple of weeks, it seems likely that the same will be happening in the States.
During a press conference on Wednesday, Dr. Fauci declared that omicron’s transmissibility and deadliness but also the ability of the available vaccines to protect us from it are all still mostly unknown.
“We’re going to get that information. We are going to get a lot more information,” he assured the population.