Scientists on alert over heavily mutated Omicron Covid variant

27-11-2021 Sat 22:31 IST | IANS | Health
Scientists on alert over heavily mutated Omicron Covid variant

Johannesburg, Nov 27:  Researchers are racing to track the rise of the new variant of the SARS-CoV-2, which is found to harbour a large number of the mutations found in other variants, including Delta.

The new variant, known as B.1.1.529, has been detected in small numbers in South Africa. The WHO on Friday assigned the Greek letter Omicron to the variant.

Researchers spotted B.1.1.529 in genome-sequencing data from Botswana. The variant stood out because it contains more than 30 changes to the spike protein -- the SARS-CoV-2 protein that recognises host cells and is the main target of the body's immune responses, Nature reported.

Many of the changes have been found in variants such as Delta and Alpha, and are linked to heightened infectivity and the ability to evade infection-blocking antibodies.

"There's a lot we don't understand about this variant," said Richard Lessells, an infectious-diseases physician at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, South Africa, at a press briefing organized by South Africa's health department on November 25.

"The mutation profile gives us concern, but now we need to do the work to understand the significance of this variant and what it means for the response to the pandemic," he added.

Genome sequencing and other genetic analysis showed that the B.1.1.529 variant was responsible for all 77 of the virus samples they analysed from Gauteng, collected between 12 and 20 November, the report said.

The variant harbours a spike mutation that allows it to be detected by genotyping tests that deliver results much more rapidly than genome sequencing does, Lessells said.

The researchers plan to test the virus's ability to evade infection-blocking antibodie


More News
NASA citizen scientist spots Jupiter-like planet
3 hours ago
India's vax prog is a role model for global community: Mandaviya
3 hours ago
Displaced Afghans selling kidneys, children to survive
4 hours ago
Andhra Pradesh logs 4,570 Covid cases
4 hours ago
Activity data from wearables could help monitor blood sugar levels: Study
4 hours ago
Lakshya Sen, Satwik-Chirag create history by winning their India Open titles
4 hours ago
Tableau politics heats up ahead of Republic day parade
4 hours ago
Deported Djokovic departs Australia on eve of year's first Grand Slam
4 hours ago
Naveen Polishetty's next film titled 'Anaganaga Oka Raju'
7 hours ago
Hyderabad look to get back to winning ways against Jamshedpur
7 hours ago
Centre issues postal stamp to mark 1 yr of Covid vax drive
8 hours ago
It's possible Kohli resigned to avoid getting sacked again, feels Gavaskar
10 hours ago
Rohit 'shocked' by Kohli's decision to quit Test captaincy, wishes him the best for the future
10 hours ago
Lata Mangeshkar's health worsens, nobody allowed to meet her
10 hours ago
Modi's initiative will boost investors' confidence in us: Indian startups
12 hours ago
Djokovic loses appeal; Australian Federal Court upholds cancellation of Serb's visa
12 hours ago
Telangana extends holidays for edu institutions till Jan 30
12 hours ago
New App Store Connect experience to be rolled out to all developers
12 hours ago
Samsung unveils two new dishwashers in India
13 hours ago
Sony's premium earbuds offer impressive noise cancellation, more
13 hours ago