The B.11.529 variant of the Vocid-19 Virus first found in South Africa, which is also known as the Omicron variant, is reportedly a “variant of concern” by the WHO. In a recent video on his YouTube page, critical care and pulmonary medicine specialist Dr. Mike Hansen talks about how this particular strain of Covid is different from previous versions of the virus, and the public health risk it creates.
There are over 30 mutations in the Omicron variant’s spike protein, which Dr. Hansen explains can make it more contagious, can cause more serious infection in patients, and can be resistant to vaccines. However, none of this has been proven yet. There were similar concerns regarding the Delta variant, which the vaccines were proven to be effective against.
“We have seen a lot of variants turn up during the last eight months or so, and a lot of them, for example Lambda, haven’t amounted to much,” said Hansen. “And they are detected because scientists are continuously running surveillance on Covid strains. But we find ourselves in a situation with a new variant, which has a high level of concern, not just because it has a greater number of mutations in the spike protein, but it’s also because a number of those mutations in the virus are the same mutations that were found in the other four variants that had scientists worried.”
He adds that we will not know how the variant will interact with vaccines until after a few weeks have gone by. So far, however, the data indicates that Omicron spreads a lot faster than the Delta variant and carries a greater risk of reinfection.
“If our vaccines are useless against Omicron, that would essentially mean we would be going through a whole new pandemic once again, a whole other 2020, scientists would have to tweak the vaccines very quickly to prevent this new variant from having the same outcome as we had in 2020,” he says. “That is why you have all of these vaccine makers working on this right now.”
Author: Scott Dowdy