Omicron shows higher transmissibility than other variants: studytext_fields
Preliminary studies form South Africa suggest that the newly-emerged Covid-19 variant dubbed Omicron could be up to six times more transmissible than other variants of the virus say scientists. However more studies would have to be conducted to asses more serious aspects such as severity of infection experts cautioned.
"The disease severity is yet to be known, which is the most important point to consider. While vaccine breakthrough infections per se are not the major concern (Delta also caused vaccine breakthrough infections), transmissibility and clinical outcomes (severity and mortality) are the key points," said Vinod Scaria, scientist at the CSIR-Institute of Genomics & Integrative Biology.
In a thread on Twitter, Scaria explored the large number of mutations which has earned the virus status of ''variant of concern's noting that the virus has potential for transmissibility and avoiding vaccines.
"Point to keep in mind: Properties of single mutations don't always add up when they occur in combination. Nevertheless they give potential directions to explore," the scientist tweeted.
The new variant may also be resistant to monoclonal antibody treatment said Mercy Rophina, scientist at the IGIB, who also works in Scaria's lab. This was based on studying the variations in the virus' spike proteins.
"This lineage carries a total of about 53 variants precisely including 32 spike protein variants. Most of the observes variants are found to possess resistance against and other functional implications," she tweeted. "6 variants spanning spike receptor binding domain ( G339D, S373P, G496S, Q498R and Y505H) are found resistant to mAbs including etesevimab, bamlanivimab,casirivimab,imdevimab and their cocktails,"
The Delta variant, which causes heavy infections and mortality, responds to monoclonal antibody therapy. However, its offspring, the Delta plus, did not respond to this therapy, considered a miracle treatment for Covid-19 in initial stages of infection.