Omicron variant, the South African expert: “It affects young people but has so far caused a milder disease”

According to the director of the Africa Health Research Institute (AHRI) Willem Hanekom, the Omicron variant is highly transmissible but has less than a 1% chance of reinfection and the disease it causes is “milder”. The expert, interviewed today by Bbc, said the increase in cases in the country is much stronger than the last three waves, but “the only data we have so far suggests that the variant may manifest itself more in younger people and especially in unvaccinated young people and, overall, so far it has appeared milder. But, once again, I want to say that we must be careful: these are the first days ». The virologist Fabrizio Pregliasco, in an interview with Italian business, on the other hand, he said that one more week is needed to complete the analyzes: «But from the information we have today it seems more contagious but with a less important clinical case history. This means that the virus is adapting better to the host with fewer effects in terms of possible serious consequences and mortality. There is no confirmation that the Omicron variant avoids vaccines and with three doses the effectiveness should be guaranteed ».

The virologist warns that the Omicron variant “modifies only the S1 of the spike (a sort of hook of the virus), therefore it changes the contagious capacity. But the S2, which concerns the pathogenicity and therefore the dangerousness, is not modified and this makes us think. In a still not validated study, some researchers have highlighted insertions of rhinovirus pieces caused by a coinfection in a subject. These modifications inserted in the genome could lead to an improvement and a reduction in the pathogenicity of the Covid virus “.

Cover photo by: Ahri

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