Omicron variant: Two scenarios for how it came about – What experts say

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At a meeting of SARS-CoV-2 virus experts, various burning questions about the new strain of SARS-CoV-2 Omicron virus were discussed.

Invited Professor of Infectious Diseases at the University of Michigan Preeti Malani, MD, MSJ, Adam Lauring, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Infectious Diseases and Carlos del Rio, MD, Distinguished Professor of Infectious Diseases at Emory University School of Medicine.

The Doctors of the Therapeutic Clinic of the Medical School of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens Theodora Psaltopoulou, Panos Malandrakis, Giannis Danasis, and Thanos Dimopoulos (Rector of EKPA) summarize the most important points of the experts’ discussion.

Two scenarios for how Omicron came about

The many mutations in the virus spike protein, which affect the transmission of the virus, and the fact that this protein is the target of vaccines and drugs have created all this talk around this particular strain.

The prevailing theories about how this strain came about are two:

  • The first is that a person with HIV and severe immunosuppression remained infected for a long time, maybe more than 300 days, resulting in the virus multiplying for a long time and constantly mutating.
  • The second ‘s theory is that of the zoonosis, that is, that the virus over time infected animals, evolved into them and can then infect humans again with different characteristics.

“The mutations that led to Omicron were made in the same host”

In any case, the scientists conclude that no sequential mutations have been made in this particular strain after infecting multiple individuals, but all these mutations took place in the same host, because it is quite different as a strain from the previous ones.

The CDC, in order to deal with the new strain, approved the aid doses to all people over the age of 18, and recommends that more frequent genomic tests be performed to identify the various strains, so that we know the impact of each one. For international travel, a negative test is required in the US 72 hours before the trip, and in countries where the micron strain has been detected, it may be required 24 hours before.

Vaccines and the need to convince the unvaccinated

Data on the efficacy of monoclonal antibodies against micron are not yet available, however these treatments will not in any case be readily available to the general public. What is needed are easily accessible oral antiviral treatments. As for the effectiveness of the vaccines, the picture is not yet clear, the corresponding data for the delta strain are still being collected.

While clinicians’ efforts have focused on vaccinating as many as possible with booster doses, a significant portion of the population remains unvaccinated. These include people who will not be vaccinated in any case due to personal desire, but also some who are hesitant, who need to be properly informed and to avoid misinformation.

Although many fear that with the appearance of the micron the pandemic may start from the beginning, this is rather unfounded. Almost two years later we have effective vaccines in our hands, while the first approved drugs against COVID-19 are already on the market. Based on the progress that has been made, we can say that the end of the pandemic is now a tangible scenario, maybe in the coming year.

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