December 3, 2021 – The genetic changes found in the new Omicron variant show that it could be more easily transmitted from person to person than Delta did the best, according to the latest UK Health Authority threat assessment that has carried out some of them and fastest analyzes of coronavirus variants in the world.
Another new report from the Network for Genomic Surveillance in South Africa supports this assessment. It shows that Omicron has quickly overtaken Delta in South Africa. In October, 80% of all coronavirus samples sequenced in that country were from the Delta Line. Omicron wasn’t even part of the mix. As of November, 75% of the viruses sequenced were Omicron, with 22% delta.
In the new UK report, scientists write that Omicron’s mutations appear to help the virus replicate faster in the body and potentially help it bind more tightly to the ACE2 receptor on human cells.
“Structural modeling suggests that the existing mutations can increase human ACE2 binding”
Affinity to a much greater extent than any other variant, ”the report said.
Studies of its genetic relationship to other variants suggest that it appeared recently in humans.
Based on structural modeling of viral genetic changes, the report states that the virus has mutations that change the shape of all four sites that neutralizing antibodies attach to, making it likely to evade natural immunity.
In fact, early research from South Africa suggests that people who are already infected with the coronavirus may get infected again with Omicron.
Based on the same structural modeling, it is very likely that Omicron has escaped at least some of the protection people get from COVID-19 vaccines, although laboratory tests and epidemiological studies will be needed before we can know for sure.
The modeling also suggests that monoclonal antibodies may not work as well against this variant, but laboratory testing is needed on this point as well to provide clarity.