“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.