More Discoveries On New COVID-19 Variant-Omicron Puts The World In Panic

More Discoveries On New COVID-19 Variant-Omicron Puts The World In Panic

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By Spy Uganda

Kampala: The omicron variant is likely to have picked up genetic material from another virus that causes the common cold in humans, according to a new preliminary study, prompting one of its authors to suggest omicron could have greater transmissibility but lower virulence than other variants of the coronavirus.

Researchers from Nference, a Cambridge, Mass.-based firm that analyzes biomedical information, sequenced omicron and found a snippet of genetic code that is also present in a virus that can bring about a cold. They say this particular mutation could have occurred in a host simultaneously infected by SARS-CoV-2, also known as the novel coronavirus, and the HCoV-229E coronavirus, which can cause the common cold. The shared genetic code with HCoV-229E has not been detected in other novel coronavirus variants, the scientists said.

“By virtue of omicron adopting this insertion … it is essentially taking a leaf out of the seasonal coronaviruses’ page, which [explains] … how it lives and transmits more efficiently with human beings,” he said.

Researchers have established that SARS-CoV-2, which is responsible for the disease known as covid-19, can infect patients who are also afflicted by other coronaviruses. Cells in the lungs and gastrointestinal systems could host both types of viruses, said Soundararajan, possibly leading to an exchange of genetic material.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says health experts are studying how often patients simultaneously suffer from covid and other respiratory illnesses.

Nference researchers last year sequenced the novel coronavirus and found that part of its genetic code “mimics” a protein that helps regulate salt and fluid balance in the human body. That development aided efforts to design drugs that combat viral transmission.

As a virus evolves to become more transmissible, it generally “loses” traits that are likely to cause severe symptoms, Soundararajan said. But he noted that much more data and analysis of omicron was needed before a definitive determination could be made, adding that unequal distribution of vaccines globally could lead to further mutations of the coronavirus.

As Fauci warned Friday that there was “absolutely … community spread” in the United States, President Biden said the country must support global efforts to stop the spread of the coronavirus, especially as new variants emerge, “in order to beat covid” at home.

“Look what’s happened. … We’re starting to make some real progress, and you find out there’s another strain,” Biden added, noting that his administration had shipped millions of vaccines worldwide to people in need.

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