This variant of COVID, was formerly known as “B.1.1.529”, but the World Health Organization (WHO) identified it as a variant of concern (VOC) due to concerning mutational changes and preliminary evidence which suggests greater risk of re-infection with this variant. The WHO approach allocates a Greek letter (such as alpha, beta, etc.) to such variants in order to provide them with a non-stigmatizing label that does not link such variants to the geographical location where they were initially found. The latest Covid variant found is called “OmiCron”.
What was the source of ‘OmiCron’?
Although the variation was first connected to Gauteng, it did not necessarily originate there. On 11th November ‘21 , the first ever sample was collected in Botswana. The odd assortment of mutations suggests that it may have possibly evolved during an infection in an immunocompromised-person, such as an untreated HIV-Aids patient, according to scientists.
What makes scientists so concerned?
30+ changes have been found in the variant’s spike-protein, which is the why the virus has been able to infect people. Concerns have been expressed regarding this, that the antibodies from past infections or vaccinations may no longer work against this. Scientists are predicting that this variant of the virus will be more likely to infect/reinfect persons who have immunity to prior COVID strains based solely on the list of alterations.
Will the variation result in a more severe case of Covid?
There is yet no evidence on whether the variation causes a change in Covid symptoms or severity; however, South African experts will be keeping a careful eye on this. There is still some time before any reliable analysed data is available due to the time lag caused between infections and serious sickness. At this point, scientists say there’s no compelling reason to believe the next variation will be worse or milder.