COVID-19 Omicron in ‘Fluid Motion’; In ‘very active’ touch with colleagues from Africa: Dr Fauci

The number of mutations in the variants is high, about 50 in total. Importantly, South African genomic scientists said on Thursday that more than 30 mutations were found in the spike protein – the structure the virus uses to get into the cells they attack.

“So it’s in a fluid motion. We’re literally discovering something about it and in real time. We’re learning more and more about it,” he said.

America’s top infectious disease expert Dr Anthony Fauci has said the new COVID-19 omicron variant is in “fluid motion” in South Africa and that US scientists are in “very active” communication with their colleagues in that country to test the strain. Here, get the facts and find out if it evades antibodies.

The new potentially more infectious variant B.1.1.1.529 was first reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) from South Africa on 24 November, and has also been identified in Botswana, Belgium, Hong Kong and Israel.

It was designated a “version of concern” by the WHO on Friday, which named it “Omicron”. A “type of concern” is the WHO’s top category of worrying COVID-19 variants.

Speaking to CNN, Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that there is certainly a new variant in South Africa “that has some mutations that are particularly likely with regards to communicability, escalation and possibly theft.” raising concerns. of immune response. Fauci, chief medical adviser to US President Joe Biden, said the new version was spreading rapidly in South Africa.

“So it’s in a fluid motion. We’re literally discovering something about it and in real time. We’re learning more and more about it,” he said.

Fauci said there is no indication that the new version exists in the US but anything is possible because it involves a lot of travel.

“We’re getting together to find out the exact molecular makeup of it so you can actually test for it. It will take a while to put together the appropriate material but we’re in very active communication with our South African colleagues and scientists.”

On whether the new variant escapes the antibody, Fauci explained, “When you see a mutation it’s going to give you a clue or a clue that it may be evading an immune response. You need to get that particular sequence of virus, put it in a form in the lab where you can actually test different antibodies so you can predict whether it can survive or you can prove it.

“We’re getting content with South African allies to get a situation where you can actually test it directly. We don’t know. Once we’re done testing, you can tell for sure. Whether it evades antibodies or not, for example through a vaccine we make against the virus,” he said.

Dr Ashish Jha, dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health, told CNN that the variant was “working differently”, and that it “seems to be much more contagious than the delta version.” Lawrence Young, a virologist and professor of molecular oncology at Warwick Medical School in the United Kingdom, said the Omicron version was “very worrying”. “This is the most heavily mutated version of the virus we have seen to date. This version has some changes that we have seen in other variants before but never all together in one virus. It also has novel mutations,” Young said in a statement.

The number of mutations in the variants is high, about 50 in total. Importantly, South African genomic scientists said on Thursday that more than 30 mutations were found in the spike protein – the structure the virus uses to get into the cells they attack.

Neil Ferguson, director of the MRC Center for Global Infectious Disease Analysis at Imperial College London, said in a statement that the number of mutations on the spike protein was “unprecedented”. “The spike protein gene [is] the protein that is the target of most vaccines. So there is concern that this variant may have a greater ability to evade prior immunity than previous variants,” Ferguson said.

The US has banned travel from South Africa and seven other countries in the southern Africa region from Monday.

Countries around the world are currently rushing to impose travel restrictions and sanctions on southern African countries in an effort to stop the spread of omicrons.

European countries along with the UK have banned travel to and from South Africa and neighbouring countries of Namibia, Zimbabwe and Botswana, as well as Lesotho and Eswatini (formerly Swaziland), both of which are landlocked within South Africa.

Other countries include Mauritius, Israel, Sri Lanka and the Netherlands. Many other countries followed suit, most of them indicating that only their own citizens would be allowed back, subject to a quarantine period.

In New Delhi, the Indian government asked all states and union territories to conduct rigorous screening and testing of all international travellers coming from or transiting through South Africa, Hong Kong and Botswana, where a new variant has been detected. 

After UK, these countries report cases of omicron variant of coronavirus

The omicron variant has already been detected in Belgium, Botswana, Hong Kong, Britain and Israel, sparking global concern and a rush to ban travel.

Omicron, the new potentially more contagious variant of the coronavirus, has been reported in more European countries after the United Kingdom, just days after being identified in South Africa, even as governments around the world are rushing to stop the spread.

The omicron variant has already been detected in Belgium, Botswana, Hong Kong, Britain and Israel, sparking global concern.
Many countries have already imposed travel restrictions on flights from southern Africa amid fears omicron variant has the potential to be more resistant to the protection offered by available vaccines. However, experts have said such restrictions may be too late to stop omicron from circulating globally.

Countries are on high alert even as the coronavirus pandemic has claimed the lives of more than 5 million people around the world.

Czech Republic
The spokesperson of a regional hospital in the northern Czech city of Liberec confirmed the new omicron strain in a woman.

“My colleagues from the department of genetics and molecular diagnostics confirmed the strain with 90-per cent probability after a sequence analysis,” Vaclav Ricar told Czech Television Saturday, according to the Associated Press.

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis has said the woman visited Namibia and flew back to the Czech Republic via South Africa and Dubai. The woman, Babis said, was vaccinated and had mild symptoms of the disease.

Ricar said the sample would now be analysed by the national reference laboratory. “But the result is already very precise,” Ricar said.

Italy
The Italian news agency LaPresse said an Italian who travelled to Mozambique has tested positive for the omicron variant. The business traveller landed in Rome on November 11 and returned to his home near Naples.

Five family members, including two children, have also tested positive. All are isolating in the Naples suburb of Caserta in good condition with light symptoms.

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