For the COVID-19 virus Omicron mutant strain, the National Health and Wellness Commission organized, CDC experts on issues related to.Latest 9 Questions About Omicron—Effect Of Omicron Variant Strains On Vaccines And Antibody Drugs

Let’s dive right in now, and you can click on the question that interest you, 

1 Discovery and prevalence of Omicron variant strains

On November 9, 2021, a variant of NIV B.1.1.529 was detected for the first time in South Africa from case samples. On November 26, WHO defined it as the fifth “variant of concern” (VOC), named after the Greek letter O (Omicron) variant. As of Nov. 28, South Africa, South Africa, South Africa, South Africa, South Africa, South Africa, South Africa, South Africa, South Africa, South Africa, South Africa, South Africa, and South Africa. As of Nov. 28, South Africa, Israel, Belgium, Italy, the United Kingdom, Austria, and Hong Kong, China, have monitored the importation of this variant strain. The Omicron variant was first discovered and reported in South Africa, but it does not mean that this virus evolved in South Africa, and the place of discovery of the variant is not necessarily the place of origin.

2 Possible reasons for the emergence of variant strains of Omicron

According to the information currently shared by GISAID, the new coronavirus database, the number of mutation sites in the new coronavirus Omicron variant is significantly higher than all-new coronavirus variants that have been prevalent in the last 2 years, especially in the viral spike protein mutations. It is speculated that there are three possible reasons for its emergence:

  1. immunodeficient patients infected with the new coronavirus have undergone a long period of evolutionary accumulation of numerous mutations in vivo and transmitted by chance;
  2. a certain animal population is infected with the new coronavirus and the virus undergoes adaptive evolution during transmission in the animal population with a higher mutation rate than in humans and subsequently spills over to infect humans;
  3. the mutant strain is in the new coronavirus virus genomic variation monitoring lags behind in countries or regions where the epidemic has persisted for a long time, and its evolved intermediate generation of viruses is not detected in time due to insufficient monitoring capacity.

3 Transmissibility of Omicron mutant strains

At present, there are no systematic research data on the transmission, pathogenicity, and immune escape ability of the Omicron variant worldwide. However, the Omicron variant possesses important amino acid mutation sites for the first four VOC variants, Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Delta, including mutation sites that enhance cellular receptor affinity and viral replication. Epidemiological and laboratory surveillance data indicate a surge in the number of cases of infection with the Omicron variant in South Africa as well as partial replacement of the Delta variant, and transmission is subject to further surveillance studies.

4 Effect of Omicron mutant strains on vaccines and antibody drugs

Studies have shown that the presence of K417N, E484A, or N501Y mutations in the S protein of the new coronavirus indicates enhanced immune escape, while the Omicron variant has a triple mutation “K417N+E484A+N501Y”; in addition, the Omicron variant has several other mutations that may reduce the neutralizing activity of some, In addition, there are several other mutations in the Omicron variant that may reduce the neutralizing activity of some monoclonal antibodies. The superposition of mutations may reduce the protective efficacy of some antibody drugs against the Omicron variant, and the ability of immune escape from existing vaccines needs to be further monitored.


5 WHO’s recommendations for dealing with variant strains of Omicron

The World Health Organization recommends that countries strengthen surveillance, reporting, and research on the new coronavirus and take effective public health measures to interrupt the spread of the virus; effective infection prevention measures recommended for individuals include keeping at least 1-meter distance in public places, wearing masks, opening windows for ventilation, keeping hands clean, coughing or sneezing into elbows or tissues, and vaccination, as well as avoiding poorly ventilated or crowded places. It is uncertain whether the Omicron variant is more transmissible, pathogenic, and immune escape than other VOC variants and preliminary results from related studies will be available in the coming weeks. What is known, however, is that all variant strains can cause severe illness or death, so prevention of virus transmission is always critical and the New Crown vaccine remains effective in reducing severe illness and death.

6 What do you need to be aware of in your daily work?

  1. Wearing a mask is still an effective way to interrupt the spread of the virus, and the same applies to the Omicron variant. Even if you have received the full vaccination and booster shots, you still need to wear a mask in indoor public places, public transportation, etc. It is also important to wash your hands frequently and to ventilate the room well.
  2. Do personal health monitoring. Monitor your body temperature and seek medical attention when you have symptoms of suspected new pneumonia, such as fever, cough, shortness of breath, etc.
  3. Reduce non-essential entry and exit. In just a few days, several countries and regions have reported the importation of the Omicron variant, and our country is also at risk of importation of this variant, and the global awareness of this variant is still limited. Therefore, travel to high-risk areas should be minimized and personal protection during travel should be strengthened to reduce the chance of contracting the Omicron variant.

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