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How will we know if omicron is a more dangerous variant

2021-11-30T23:23:53.698Z

Several health authorities and laboratories have stated that it will take weeks to know if omicron is more dangerous. We tell you why.



What do we know about omicron gravity?

Dr. Fauci answers 1:44

(CNN) -

As soon as South Africa announced the spread of a worrisome new variant of the coronavirus last week, omicron, scientists got down to business.


By the time the World Health Organization (WHO) had christened the new lineage omicron, multiple teams of researchers had already duplicated the work from laboratories in Durban and elsewhere, and traced the genetic changes that made omicron the new. member of the coronavirus family.

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Although many of those mutations were known from other variants, the scientists were still unsure whether they made omicron substantially different from previous variants, especially from the superdominant delta variant.

It will take weeks of testing to find out what added superpowers, if any, these mutations give omicron.

The researchers will observe what happens in the real world by analyzing samples taken from patients, sequencing their genomes to see if omicron is the cause of the infections and observing if more and more samples turn out to be of this variant.

South African doctor recounts the symptoms of the omicron variant 2:43

They will also look at whether omicron infections cause more serious illness and whether fully vaccinated people are more likely to be infected with omicron variants than others.

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These kinds of tests in real life can take months.

Vaccine manufacturers study omicron

"AstraZeneca is also already conducting research in locations where the variant has been identified, specifically in Botswana and Swaziland, which will allow us to collect real-world data from Vaxzevria against this new variant of the virus," a spokesman for the vaccine manufacturer said on Friday.

Vaxzevria is the name of the Covid-19 vaccine manufactured by AstraZeneca.

  • The omicron variant of coronavirus has already been detected in 18 countries

Vaccine manufacturers are turning to a technique that has become common throughout the pandemic: drawing blood from vaccinated volunteers and people who have recovered from recent infections and mixing it with samples of the new variant or a modified version in called a pseudovirus to see how immune cells and proteins work against it.

Blood serum contains the antibodies and B and T cells that do the hard work of the body's immune system.


Pfizer and its partner BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson say they are initiating these experiments.

"The company is testing the blood serum of participants in the completed and ongoing booster studies for neutralizing activity against the omicron variant," Johnson & Johnson said in a statement Monday.

This approach has been used to first demonstrate that vaccines could work to protect people against infection, then to show that they worked to protect people against alpha, beta, gamma, and delta variants, and finally to provide the former. evidence of decreased immunity.

These laboratory techniques, combined with real-life testing, form the basis for decision-making about vaccine authorizations, approvals, and guidance on their use.

Is omicron more dangerous than the other variants of coronavirus?

1:25

And they will be used to inform the world about omicron hazards.

"There are two ways to find out," Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), told CNN on Monday.

"One is through laboratory experiments. To do this, you need to have an omicron isolate growing in the laboratory and then mix it with serum from vaccinated people and verify if that vaccinated serum continues to neutralize the virus. It just takes a while for the virus grows. There's not much we can do to speed it up. "

The World Health Organization's technical director of covid-19, Maria Van Kerkhove, told CNN that it will take some time to "grow the stockpile" of the virus.

"Our estimate is between two and four weeks," he said.

Fauci's explanation of the omicron variant

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, outlined the two approaches Tuesday.

"One of the things you do is get the virus and grow it or put it in a modified form called a pseudovirus. And when you do that, you can get convalescent plasma, monoclonal antibodies, as well as vaccine-induced sera and antibodies to see if they neutralize the virus, "he said at a coronavirus briefing at the White House.

Convalescent plasma comes from people who have been infected and recovered.

"That will give us a pretty good idea of ​​what the level of immune evasion is. That process will probably take two weeks or more, or maybe even sooner, depending on how well the virus grows in the isolates we get," Fauci said.

"And in those countries where there are a lot of cases, like South Africa, computational biologists and evolutionary biologists are going to have a good idea of ​​what the competition of this virus would be with the delta variant. These are just some of the things that it will take. to meet in a couple of weeks. "

  • Omicron vs.

    delta: a higher number of mutations does not necessarily make the covid-19 virus more harmful

Dr. Janet Woodcock, Acting Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), said in a statement Tuesday that the agency is working with medical product companies charged with the manufacture of tests, therapies and vaccines, to address any potential effects of the new variant.

Ómicron: these are the countries with cases 1:17

"Historically, the work to obtain the genetic information and patient samples for the variants and then perform the necessary tests to assess their impact takes time. However, we expect most of this work to be completed in the next few weeks." Woodcock said.

- Naomi Thomas and Virginia Langmaid contributed reporting.

omicron

Source: cnnespanol

All news articles on 2021-11-30

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