According to the researchers, who analyzed several studies published in England and Belgium, the variant that is progressively supplanting the dangerous Delta would not be able to damage the lower airways of the respiratory tract. The “preliminary” results all converge towards this thesis, already confirmed by American researchers
More contagious but less lethal. The Omicron variant, highlights a new study conducted by a team of British scientists, is less serious because compared to the other strains of the coronavirus Sars-CoV 2 it affects the throat more than the lungs. The team of scientists has come to the conclusion, which has already been confirmed by American researchers, thanks to the analysis of a multitude of studies – which will have to be peer reviewed – published close to Christmas. “The result of all the mutations that make Omicron different from previous variants – explains Deenan Pillay, professor of virology at University College London – could be the alteration of the ability to infect different types of cells. Basically, it seems to be more in able to infect the upper respiratory tract, the throat cells. So it would spread there more easily than to cells deep in the lung. ” This ability, the British scientists point out, would help explain Omicron’s rapid spread.
The Neyts Lab of the University of Leuven in Belgium found similar results in Syrian hamsters. And researchers at the Center for Virus Research at the University of Glasgow have found evidence that Omicron has changed the way the virus settles in the body: infected mice lose less weight, have a lower viral load and suffer from less severe pneumonia. It is a “first piece of the puzzle” and in the perspective of “good news” but we must not rush the times: Omicron infects and causes victims. Although the results are preliminary, and awaiting peer review, the studies all point in the same direction. A few days earlier, American researchers had also reached the same conclusion, and before them a team of scientists from the University of Hong Kong.
The new characteristics of the Omicron variant fuel the debate on the effectiveness of rapid tampons: Could they give more reliable results if used to take throat samples? Professor Jennifer Rohn of University College London said she tested negative using nasal swabs, but positive when she took a sample from her throat. For Professor Lawrence Young, a virologist at the University of Warwick, however, it is too early to arrive at a verdict: “I do not think this study can be meaningful to reach conclusions, it concerns a few symptomatic outpatients”.
The Omicron variant would therefore seem a weakened version of Covid, but still potentially dangerous. It should also be said that, in most cases, the tests were conducted on blood samples taken from subjects undergoing at least the ordinary vaccination cycle.