Omicron Italia variant, mild symptoms and contagions: what the experts say

Omicron Italia variant, mild symptoms and contagions: what the experts say
Omicron Italia variant, mild symptoms and contagions: what the experts say

Spotlight on the Omicron variant of Covid, on data and infections, and on what at the moment seem mild symptoms, as in the case of ‘patient zero’ in Italy. For the coordinator of the CTS and president of the Superior Health Council, Franco Locatelli, worrying about Omicron “is excessive”. This variant of SARS Cov-2 “has quickly become largely preponderant in South Africa” ​​and it is assumed that it is “more contagious”. This is why it must be “kept under control” and “neither underestimated nor dramatized”, Locatelli told SkyTg24.

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According to the CTS coordinator “everything leads us to assume that Omicron is more contagious. We need to understand if there is a greater pathogenicity, but it would seem not, even if the population of South Africa is younger than the Italian one”. “To date, no variant has been shown to be resistant to the effect of vaccines,” he points out. And “the third dose to counteract the variant is also necessary”. With respect to the hypothesis of a fourth vaccination dose in the near future, Locatelli explains that “it cannot be excluded”.

“In a few days I felt too much alarmism among colleagues and also among politicians: let’s avoid this attitude – he comments to Adnkronos Salute Matteo Bassetti, head of the infectious disease department of the San Martino hospital in Genoa – The vaccines we are using are protecting us from serious illness and the risk of death. And that’s the only thing that interests us. ”

“Our primary goal is to reduce hospital admissions and at the moment, for this eventuality, those who are vaccinated with two doses are also protected by Omicron – says Bassetti – Two things are further confirmed: that the more vaccinated countries have fewer problems than to those who are further behind, like South Africa, and that vaccines in spite of everything, for example the many mutations of Omicron, work “.

On the Omicron variant “it will take two weeks to know a little more. In my opinion the situation is not so devastating to date but we must take care in the sense of foreseeing the worst scenario in order to equip ourselves in the best possible way from the point of view of tracking, identification and in-depth analysis “the virologist told Adnkronos Salute Fabrizio Pregliasco, professor of the University of Milan.

“The data to date tell us that Omicron is more contagious, yes, but – underlines the expert – perhaps the cases are not even so heavy, according to those identified to date. However – recalls Pregliasco – they are vaccinated and this is the ‘element that remains as a doubt “.

The alarm on the Omicron variant of Sars-Cov -2 “is premature and excessive” he tells Adnkronos Salute Carlo Signorelli, full professor of Hygiene and director of the School of Specialization in Hygiene and Preventive Medicine of the Vita-Salute San Raffaele University of Milan. “Data is needed to comment or pronounce. At the moment we know nothing, in particular how the variant behaves with respect to vaccines. In this situation, ‘shaking’ the markets with strong news is exaggerated,” he adds.

“The correct attitude is to wait for the data – continues Signorelli – and the distinction will obviously be the effectiveness of the vaccines against Omicron. If the vaccines are effective, it will be a variant like the others. If this is not the case, but up to today it has never happened and it is unlikely – he stresses – we should worry more. We must go forward with an attitude of prudence, of course, but this does not mean that we should be alarmed “.

“The data coming from South Africa on the Omicron variant of Sars-CoV-2 seems to suggest that there is no higher pathogenicity, more severe disease, and the mutations should all be covered by vaccine-induced antibodies and T cells. Almost. it certainly won’t be able to break through vaccine protection, “he says Mario Clerici, professor of immunology at the University of Milan and scientific director of the Don Gnocchi Foundation, who explains to Adnkronos Salute: “Obviously all this attention to the Omicron variant is very useful to keep one’s guard up, but it doesn’t seem to me that from the point of view of the expression of disease there will be a difference. ”

The feeling, continues the expert, “is that the 32 mutations on the Spike protein of the virus are no longer dangerous and that there will be no escape from the vaccine, that is, the vaccine will still be able to protect. Vaccination induces antibodies against the whole Spike protein, even against the mutated portions in Omicron. And it will probably not be necessary to update the vaccines we have available today. But even if it proves necessary, the great advantage of mRna vaccines is that they are plastic and can be changed in a very short time time. But I don’t think it will help, also because if the virus mutates its Spike too much in order to escape vaccines, then it risks not being able to bind to our cells anymore. So it can mutate the Spike up to a certain point, then that’s enough “. So if there is a message to send to people it is: “Do not let your guard down, get vaccinated and with the 99% vaccine you will also protect yourself against Omicron”.

“It is too early to worry too much about the Omicron variant,” whose symptoms seem mild at the moment, “but it is right to keep alert. This is because we do not have much information. We know, it is true, what are the changes that characterize it. But we can only make some assumptions about the consequences of these changes, such as the increased contagiousness “. The virologist explains it to Adnkronos Salute Giovanni Maga, director of the Institute of Molecular Genetics of the Cnr of Pavia, recalling that “sometimes what is found when the virus accumulates many mutations, as in the case of this variant, is that its ability to cause symptoms may even be attenuated. because, by changing many characteristics, the virus often becomes more contagious but less capable of giving acute forms “.

At the moment, however, “we do not have much information on the consequences of the Omicron variant infection. We know that the people infected in South Africa have not needed hospitalization and all have mild symptoms. However, they are young people, and this element must be evaluated. What we need to do now is to wait, a couple of weeks, the time necessary to have the scientific data and verify if this variant is able to escape the immune system or resist vaccines. At the moment there is no evidence that it is like this”.

“The Omicron variant appears to have caused no particularly severe symptoms. If the vaccine is an umbrella with a few holes, I still use it when it rains.” Professor Massimo Galli thus answers, to L’aria che tira, the questions about the new Omicron variant. “We have been told that Omicron has 32 mutations and a dozen are located at the attachment point of our cells, which is why it has automatically become a disturbing variant, but it does not appear to kill vaccinated people. Symptoms seem mild but we need to. time to evaluate more data, “says Galli.

“Maximum attention must be maintained, but it is not the case to take excessively alarmist positions. It is not the variant that pierces everything, it could pierce in part. It is the case that people get vaccinated and the third dose should help us to put citizens are safe. If the vaccine is an umbrella with a few holes, when it rains I use it anyway. If the vaccine is updated, we will take advantage of it when it is available “, concludes Galli.

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