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Omikron co-discoverer: The variant’s predecessors have been around for a long time

Forerunners of the recently discovered Corona variant Omikron are likely to have existed for a very long time, according to their co-discoverer, who came from Germany. “According to the current state of knowledge, an early form of Omikron developed as its own virus type even before the emergence of alpha and delta,” said Wolfgang Preiser from Stellenbosch University near Cape Town to the German press agency.He is a member of the research consortium that discovered the variant.

This type of virus then probably evolved over many months without attracting attention, said Preiser. “The question is: Top Site Info Why did Omikron stay hidden for so long and only start now? Are you missing one or two mutations to be able to spread quickly?” The oldest known evidence of the variant so far comes from the first half of November.

The variant, Top Site Info which was first discovered in South Africa and Botswana, has a particularly large number of mutations.Among other things, they affect the spike protein, which the viruses use to dock onto human cells. There are also mutations near what is known as the Furin Cleavage Site, a region that plays a role in the uptake of the virus in human cells.

In Germany, according to the Robert Koch Institute, four cases of the Omikron variant had been confirmed by genome sequencing by Wednesday — all of them returning from South Africa. In eight other cases in Germany there is a suspicion of the variant.However, experts assume an occurrence that goes beyond this.

According to the EU health authority ECDC, Omikron could be the dominant variant in Europe in just a few months. The agency recently pointed out that while there are still a number of uncertainties about the communicability, severity of illnesses, and possible immune effects. However, preliminary data indicated that Omikron had a clear advantage over the Delta variant.The WHO classifies Omikron as “very worrying”.

Preiser assumes that Omikron is more easily transferable than Delta. He does not see any definite signs that Omikron tends to lead to milder disease courses. It is still too early for that. It is also unclear whether children are particularly susceptible to Omicron. “Although there are currently a lot of hospitalizations among children in South Africa, they are hardly vaccinated,” said Preiser.

There are various theses about the origins of Omikron, said Preiser.It could be that the corona variant developed in a patient with HIV or another form of immunodeficiency. The idea behind it: In people with a weakened immune system, the virus could multiply over many months and change bit by bit without being completely switched off by the immune system. “That is a speculative thesis and not proven,” said Preiser. Another hypothesis is that the omicron evolved in animals.

Other questions are still open, for example how the vaccinations against Omikron work.

“Although there are currently very many breakthrough infections in people vaccinated with Omikron in South Africa, it is unclear whether this is due to the special properties of the variant.

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