The speed at which the omicron variant appears to have accumulated its unusual pattern of mutations is a concern, according to Sikhulile Moyo, the scientist who first detected the new strain that has quickly spread across the world.
Moyo said viruses don’t accumulate mutations in a single step. Given the global lack of adequate sequencing of the coronavirus, it’s very hard to get a good grasp of how early the omicron variant developed.
One of the theories is that this strain developed in an immuno-compromised person that harbored the virus for much longer than normal. Still, Moyo cautioned that there is no evidence for this. Another hypothesis being looked into is whether it could have been transferred from people into an animal host, adapted to that host relatively quickly, and then moved back into humans.