Home An early lab study reveals Omicron variant may cause milder infections

An early lab study reveals Omicron variant may cause milder infections


Coronavirus disease (SARS-CoV-2) or COVID-19’s Omicron variant appears to cause milder illness at infiltrating the lung and spreading from cell to cell compared with other versions, early lab studies reported.

The less efficiency of the omicron variant may explain why some early data from countries such as South Africa and England suggest the strain causes less severe disease, an article from Live Science explained.

Nevertheless, a study posted in bioRxiv on December 21, 2021, confirms that the variant dodges most of the antibodies made by fully vaccinated individuals. 

Similarly in other research has shown that “a ‘booster’ dose of Pfizer vaccine significantly increased the neutralization power of vaccinated people’s antibodies.”

Senior author Ravindra Gupta, a professor of clinical microbiology at the Cambridge Institute for Therapeutic Immunology and Infectious Diseases, said that “a waning in immunity” is still expected to occur over time.

Moreover, research findings on the omicron variant also hint that the “mutations present the virus with a double-edged sword: it’s got better at evading the immune system, but it might have lost some of its ability to cause severe disease,” Gupta said. This, however, is not yet been peer-reviewed or published in a scientific journal, and scientists still need to confirm whether these experiments in lab dishes match what happens in human patients and that omicron’s mutations actually influence the severity of infection.

In a previous report by Live Science, researchers discovered more than 30 mutations in the omicron variant’s spike protein genes. “Of those, 10 code for parts of the ‘receptors binding domain’ (RBD), or the specific portions of the spike protein latches onto cells.”

Researchers engineered synthetic viruses, called pseudoviruses, to further examine how these spike mutations work and interact with cells that carry the omicron spike protein. At the same time, they also generated pseudoviruses with the delta spike protein and some with the Wuhan-1 spike (original SARS-CoV-2 virus) to see the difference between the variants.

To know more, check out the full article on Live Science.

“We speculate that the more efficient the virus is at infecting our cells, the more severe the disease might be,” Gupta said.

He continued: “The fact that omicron is not so good at entering lung cells and that it causes fewer fused cells with lower infection levels in the lab suggests this new variant may cause less severe lung-associated disease.”

While further studies still need to confirm these speculations, these scientists experimenting with antibodies affirmed that to achieve maximum protection against the variant, Gupta urged people to get booster shots ASAP.

“Individuals who have only received two doses of the vaccine — or worse, none at all — are still at significant risk of COVID-19, and some will develop severe disease,” he said. “The sheer number of new cases we are seeing every day reinforces the need for everyone to get their boosters as quickly as possible.” – WhatALife.ph

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