Singapore: The new and highly contagious Omicron would replace Delta to become the dominant Covid-19 worldwide, experts cautioned. They said that this would happen in the coming weeks as the virus is adapting well and has a reproductive advantage, PTI reported. Omicron is already dominant in Australia, Russia, South Africa and the United Kingdom.
Omicron strain comprised between 7 to 27 per cent of the genome submissions- from all continents except Africa- sent to Gisaid during the last month. Gisaid, which provides the shared genome platform for Covid-19, is a data science initiative headquartered in Munich.
While the Delta variant has 13 mutations with nine on the spike protein, Omicron has 50, are not seen together, and 32 of them are on the spike protein, Dale Fisher, a senior consultant at the National University Hospital's Division of Infectious Diseases, said. Because of this number of mutations, Omicron could effectively attach to human cell receptors. Fisher noted that health authorities are more concerned about the variant since it is more 'stickier' because of its extra mutations. The rise and fall of new variants so far follow the laws of nature and the survival of the fittest, he added.
But Fisher also said that reports of Omicron rates from some countries could be biased as they do little gene sequencing. They could be scanning for deletion in a specific spike protein gene to identify Omicron instead of carrying out whole genome sequencing, he said.
Dr Sebastian Maurer-Stroh said that getting infected by Delta and Omicron simultaneously is possible but rare. But only one of them will be dominant in the host human body. Maurer-Stroh is the executive director of Singapore's Agency for Science, Technology and Research's Bioinformatics Institute.
Omicron was first detected in South Africa on November 11 and was found later in Botswana in Hong Kong. The variant spread over 110 plus countries after that. As per evidence worldwide, the variant is heavily contagious but causes less severe disease than Delta.