Home » Coronavirus: Omikron co-discovered: Precursors have been around for a very long time

Coronavirus: Omikron co-discovered: Precursors have been around for a very long time

Corona Virus
Co-discoverer of Omikron: The first have been around for a very long time

Wolfgang Breezer

Wolfgang Preiser is a member of the research consortium that discovered the Omikron variant. Photo: Christoph Soeder / dpa

© dpa-infocom GmbH

Is the Omikron pandemic again spreading more violently? The new variant was first discovered in South Africa and destabilized the world. Although it is not as new as many people think.

The pioneer of the recently discovered corona variant omicron According to their co-discoverer from Germany, they have been around for a very long time.

“According to the current state of knowledge, an early form of omicron was developed as a separate viral species even before the emergence of alpha and delta,” he said. Wolfgang Breezer From Stellenbosch University near Cape Town from the German Press Agency. He is a member of the research consortium that discovered the alternative.

This type of virus likely evolved over several months without attracting attention, Presser said. «The question is: Why did Omikron stay hidden for so long and only started now? Are there still one or two mutations missing to be able to spread quickly? The oldest known evidence of the variant so far comes from the first half of November.

a lot of mutations

first in South Africa Botswana has a particularly large number of mutations. Among other things, they affect the spike protein, which viruses use to attach to human cells. There are also mutations near what is known as the Furin cleavage site, a region that plays a role in virus uptake into human cells.

in a Germany According to the Robert Koch Institute, four cases of the Omikron variant had been confirmed by genome sequencing by Wednesday – all of them returning from South Africa. In eight other cases in Germany the variant was suspected. However, experts assume that an event that actually goes beyond that will occur.

Omikron has an advantage over Delta

According to the European Union health authority ECDC, Omikron could be the dominant alternative in Europe in just a few months. The agency recently noted that while there are still a number of uncertainties about transmissibility, disease severity, and potential immunomodulatory effects. However, preliminary data indicated that Omikron has a clear advantage over the delta variant. The World Health Organization classifies Omikron as “of concern”.

Preiser assumes Omikron is more convertible than Delta. He doesn’t see any specific signs that Omikron tends to lead to milder disease cycles. It’s still too early for that. It’s also not clear if children are particularly susceptible to Omicron. “Although there are a lot of hospitalizations among children in South Africa, they are rarely vaccinated,” Brisher said.

The origin of the variable is not clear

Presser said there are many theses about the origins of Omikron. So that could be it CoronaThe variant is developed in a patient with HIV or another form of immunodeficiency. The idea behind it: In people with weakened immune systems, the virus can replicate over several months and change little by little without the immune system stopping completely. “This is a speculative thesis, and it has not been proven,” Breiser said. Another hypothesis is that omicron evolved in animals.

Other questions remain open, for example how do the Omikron vaccinations work. There are currently too many sudden infections in people vaccinated with Omikron in South Africa. But it is unclear whether this is due to the particular characteristics of the variant.” It is also conceivable that external conditions play a role. Health care workers most affected by reduced protection due to early vaccination, for example, are currently infected.


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