Very little is known about omicron, the new COVID variant, which has been identified in South Africa and Botswana. In these countries, the volume of viral sequencing is very low, so for these reasons we don’t have a clear description of the epidemiological situation, Russian virologist, head of the genomic engineering laboratory of the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology Pavel Volchkov told Report.
The virologist noted that the coronavirus infection contains a huge number of mutations, in particular those characterized only superficially in the Covid-19 protein, there are at least 32 of them: “This is a lot and will most likely lead to the fact that the virus cannot effectively neutralize antibodies. After we recover from the disease, our blood serum contains a whole cocktail of different antibodies and, unfortunately, some of them, most likely, won’t be able to effectively bind to the protein of the new omicron strain.”
According to Volchkov, it will be easier for the omicron to infect people who have already had other strains of coronavirus or have been vaccinated. He stressed that now all vaccines are based on the original strain identified back in China, but most of the current strains have gone far from the Wuhan version.
“The coronavirus won’t leave our population, it will try to evolve all the time. We don’t yet know how highly pathogenic the omicron is, but such that omicron-like strains will appear not only in Africa, but also in other regions and will play on secondary infections, because, one way or another, the number of people who never contracted the virus has already dropped significantly,” said the virologist.
Volchkov also emphasized that the next stage of the pandemic is repeated infections, which will proceed mainly in a mild form.