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How Omicron’s Mutations Make It The Most Infectious Coronavirus Variant Yet

How omicron’s mutations make it the most infectious coronavirus variant yet

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In November, a novel coronavirus type wreaked havoc on the whole planet. Since then, Omicron has unleashed an unprecedented wave of viruses, infecting over 90 million individuals in only ten weeks. That is a more significant number of COVID-19 instances than were reported in the whole year 2020.

Additionally, experts were left scratching their minds when it came to Omicron. It’s rife with mutations, which would ordinarily doom a virus if they occurred. The coronavirus variation omicron was shown to be far less effective than the previous coronavirus variant champion, delta, in merging with a cell’s membrane — which is necessary for infecting that cell — or replicating in lung cells, according to early research. It was still there, washing the delta almost off the map in a matter of weeks in some locations (SN: 2/10/22). Omicron could also infect those who had previously developed immunity to the virus due to vaccination or prior exposure to COVID-19. Researchers were perplexed as to how omicron was accomplishing this feat.

“It’s a fascinating variety,” says Shan-Lu Liu, a virologist at The Ohio State University in Columbus who codirects the Viruses and Emerging Pathogens Program. “It’s an exciting variant.” “It’s what I call odd.”

Researchers in Botswana and South Africa discovered the genetic composition of omicron for the first time. The researchers found more than 60 alterations, including 42 changes in omicron’s spike protein, a knobby structure on the virus’s surface that starts cell entry and may help the virus elude antibody responses. Some of those mutations have appeared in prior versions, such as the alpha and delta forms of the gene. However, omicron possesses modifications and transformations that have never been observed before and novel combinations of mutations.

Scientists have been working feverishly to determine how these mutations influence omicron’s capacity to infect individuals and cause sickness in humans. Worldwide, researchers are experimenting with omicron mimics on cells in lab dishes, analyzing the virus under a microscope, testing the viral variation in laboratory animals, and reviewing medical and other data to learn more about what makes the variety tick. So far, scientists have discovered the following.

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