A team of Israeli geneticists is struggling to find answers to questions of concern about the new Omicron coronavirus strain, according to The Times of Israel.
Scientists are trying “hack the puzzle” and find out the origin of this strain, as well as determine if it is resistant to vaccines.
“We're trying to understand when it first appeared, how it first appeared, and how long it has spread without being detected,” said Professor Adi Stern, who studies the evolution of viruses at Tel Aviv University. confusing.
“There are a lot of mutations in Omicron. We have already seen some in different versions, but some of them are new. So far, we have not seen such a number of mutations in general, or, in particular, in the spike protein of the virus, which is a target for the vaccine, '' explains Adi Stern.
The professor's laboratory studies the mutation patterns of the strain, as well as their evolutionary origin. In addition, scientists are exploring various hypotheses to explain how the Omicron strain came about. The researchers are also considering a variant in which a new strain arose in an immunocompromised patient who was unable to get rid of the virus and became the “ host '' multiple mutations.
“It could be a patient with a weakened immune system, cancer or other medical conditions, a recombination of two options, a set of hypermutations that occur faster than usual, or a number of other possibilities,” says Adi Stern.
at the same time, the professor warned against hasty conclusions that the Omicron strain will become dominant, that it will be resistant to vaccines or provoke more serious diseases.
“At the moment, anything is possible. Perhaps this option is more contagious, but actually less virulent. In fact, some early reports from South Africa suggest that this is the case, but it is too early to tell. With regard to vaccines, we are waiting for what we call neutralization tests, namely, to see how the virus reacts in laboratories to serum from vaccinated people. ” – summed up Adi Stern.
According to the professor, she is optimistic, because the vaccine “ is usually suitable for the virus even after its changes. ''