What you need to know about omicron, South Africa's new COVID-19 variant.
LONDON, UK — This week, scientists in South Africa identified a new coronavirus variant that they say is responsible for a recent increase in COVID-19 infections in Gauteng, the country's most populous province.
It's unclear where the new variety originated, but scientists in South Africa discovered it initially, and it's already been found in travellers from Belgium, Botswana, Hong Kong, and Israel.
Health Minister Joe Phaahla said the variant was connected to a "exponential surge" in instances in recent days, however specialists are still unsure if the new variant, known as B.1.1.529, is actually responsible.
From slightly over 200 new confirmed cases each day in recent weeks, the number of new cases per day in South Africa increased to 2,465 on Thursday. Scientists investigated virus samples from the outbreak and discovered the new type while trying to figure out why there was such a dramatic increase in cases.
The World Health Organization categorised it as a "variant of concern" in a statement released on Friday, designating it "omicron" after a Greek letter.
The United Nations' health agency warned that "preliminary evidence implies an increased risk of reinfection with this variant," compared to other variants, after assembling a committee of specialists to examine the data.
The WHO stated, "The number of cases of this variety appears to be increasing in practically all provinces in South Africa."
Why are scientists worried about omicron?
The coronavirus' spike protein appears to have a significant number of mutations — roughly 30 — which could alter how easy it spreads to people.
The data thus far suggest the novel variation has alterations "associated with improved transmissibility," but "the significance of many of the mutations is yet unknown," according to Sharon Peacock, who conducted the genetic sequencing of COVID-19 in Britain at the University of Cambridge.
The variant is "the most heavily mutated version of the virus we have encountered," according to Lawrence Young, a virologist at the University of Warwick. "It appears like it's spreading rapidly," he said, despite the fact that the mutation was only discovered in low levels in portions of South Africa.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious diseases expert in the United States, said American officials had scheduled a call with their South African counterparts for later Friday to learn more specifics, and that there was no indication the variant had arrived in the United States yet.
What is known about omicron and what is unknown?
Scientists know the new version differs genetically from prior variants like as the beta and delta variants, but they don't know if these differences make it more transmissible or harmful. There is currently no evidence that the variation causes more severe illness.
It will probably take weeks to figure out if the new variation is more contagious and if vaccines against it are still effective.
Even if some of the new variant's genetic changes appear to be concerning, it's yet unknown whether they will represent a public health risk. Previous varieties, such as the beta version, concerned scientists at first but did not spread very far.
"We don't know if this new variation will gain a foothold in delta-dominated regions," Peacock of the University of Cambridge remarked. "Where there are other varieties circulating, the jury is yet out on how well this version will do." Delta is currently the most common COVID-19 variant, accounting for more than 99 percent of sequences submitted to the world's largest public database.
How did this new variant arise?
As the coronavirus spreads, it mutates, and many new varieties, including ones with potentially dangerous genetic modifications, die off. Scientists are hunting for alterations in COVID-19 sequences that could make the disease more transmissible or lethal, but they can't tell just by looking at the virus.
The variant "may have evolved in someone who was infected but couldn't clear the virus, allowing the virus to genetically evolve," according to Peacock, in a scenario similar to how experts believe the alpha variant — which was first identified in England — emerged, by mutating in an immune-compromised person.
Are the travel restrictions being imposed by some countries justified?
The United States joined the European Union and a number of other countries in imposing travel restrictions on visitors from southern Africa on Friday.
Beginning Monday, the United States will restrict travel from South Africa and seven other countries in the area, according to the White House. It did not go into detail, except to note that the limits will not apply to returning citizens or permanent residents of the United States, who will continue to be needed to test negative before travelling.
Travelers travelling in the United Kingdom from South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, and Zimbabwe will be required to self-isolate for 10 days as of noon Friday. On Friday, European Union nations moved rapidly to try to halt plane flights from southern Africa.
Restricting travel from the region is "prudent" and would allow authorities more time given the recent rapid surge in COVID-19 in South Africa, according to Neil Ferguson, an infectious diseases expert at Imperial College London.
The early finding of the new variant, according to Jeffrey Barrett, head of COVID-19 Genetics at the Wellcome Sanger Institute, could mean that constraints put in place now have a greater impact than when the delta variant originally appeared.
"With delta, it took many, many weeks into India's dreadful wave before it became evident what was going on, and by that time, delta had already seeded itself in many areas throughout the world, and it was too late to do anything," he said. "With this new variety, we may be at an earlier stage, so there may still be time to do something about it."
Ckjmun 04-06-2023 | 06:00 PM
buy olumiant 4mg pills baricitinib uk buy atorvastatin generic
Achrgr 02-06-2023 | 06:00 PM
naprosyn brand buy naprosyn 250mg for sale order prevacid 15mg for sale
Bevfrb 01-06-2023 | 06:00 PM
order digoxin 250mg for sale digoxin 250mg canada purchase molnupiravir for sale
Dpbklm 29-05-2023 | 06:00 PM
purchase temovate sale buy temovate paypal order amiodarone
Etklsa 28-05-2023 | 06:00 PM
buy clobetasol generic clobetasol online buy amiodarone 200mg for sale
Ivnlec 28-05-2023 | 06:00 PM
benicar pill buy olmesartan 10mg generic purchase depakote pills
Vzyvef 27-05-2023 | 06:00 PM
buy mesalamine 400mg generic astelin online order avapro 150mg price
Hjutjb 26-05-2023 | 06:00 PM
levitra 10mg for sale plaquenil 200mg over the counter buy plaquenil online
Hrnoac 25-05-2023 | 06:00 PM
cost altace 10mg amaryl ca buy etoricoxib 60mg sale
Hizrkx 25-05-2023 | 06:00 PM
vardenafil oral buy generic hydroxychloroquine online order plaquenil pills
Mdlquu 23-05-2023 | 06:00 PM
order furosemide 40mg for sale monodox for sale online order ventolin 4mg inhaler
Lhqbtb 22-05-2023 | 06:00 PM
ivermectin 1 topical cream order generic stromectol 6mg order prednisone 10mg for sale
Eatmlj 21-05-2023 | 06:00 PM
order azithromycin online cheap buy generic azipro for sale gabapentin us
Fywvri 21-05-2023 | 06:00 PM
cost tadalafil viagra 100mg drug order cialis 10mg for sale
Tbfpps 19-05-2023 | 06:00 PM
cost arava purchase azulfidine online cheap where can i buy sulfasalazine
Tzjxrt 18-05-2023 | 06:00 PM
suhagra order online order sildenafil 100mg generic female viagra sildenafil
Bclgib 17-05-2023 | 06:00 PM
purchase catapres online where to buy tiotropium without a prescription spiriva 9mcg us
Xhxlcs 16-05-2023 | 06:00 PM
bimatoprost where to buy buy cheap careprost how to get trazodone without a prescription
Ulxyqs 15-05-2023 | 06:00 PM
order trimox 250mg pills buy arimidex generic order clarithromycin 500mg without prescription
Wxuflr 13-05-2023 | 06:00 PM
tamoxifen 20mg brand budesonide tablet order cefuroxime 500mg pill
Gsdqlk 13-05-2023 | 06:00 PM
indocin price buy cheap generic indomethacin buy suprax 100mg without prescription
Wvrzno 12-05-2023 | 06:00 PM
cleocin 150mg us buy cleocin 300mg without prescription purchase fildena for sale
Twmhhx 12-05-2023 | 06:00 PM
avanafil online buy tadalafil drug order voltaren 50mg for sale
Qgvsbe 11-05-2023 | 06:00 PM
buy metronidazole 400mg pills buy generic metronidazole for sale buy cephalexin 500mg
Fodggu 10-05-2023 | 06:00 PM
cost vermox tadalafil cost tadalafil usa
Gtsccs 09-05-2023 | 06:00 PM
buy diflucan 100mg generic buy ciprofloxacin paypal cipro drug
Rcfobb 09-05-2023 | 06:00 PM
order generic estrace 2mg estrace 1mg sale generic prazosin
Zcmoqr 08-05-2023 | 06:00 PM
cefadroxil online buy cheap generic finasteride buy generic propecia 5mg
Xatrbd 07-05-2023 | 06:00 PM
buy cialis 20mg pill Cialis or viagra viagra 100mg usa
Qybmqs 06-05-2023 | 06:00 PM
tegretol pills carbamazepine 200mg for sale buy lincomycin 500 mg
Rtwwlf 04-05-2023 | 06:00 PM
order nebivolol online cheap buy bystolic without prescription order clozaril 50mg online cheap
Nqflzq 04-05-2023 | 06:00 PM
starlix 120 mg drug buy generic starlix 120mg buy atacand online
Qmdzsu 02-05-2023 | 06:00 PM
prometrium 200mg ca buy tinidazole 300mg generic order olanzapine 10mg for sale
Yuhzyv 02-05-2023 | 06:00 PM
buy combivent pills for sale generic decadron zyvox generic
Otvfgb 01-05-2023 | 06:00 PM
buy generic betamethasone 20gm order betnovate 20 gm creams order itraconazole 100mg pills
Laosxh 30-04-2023 | 06:00 PM
cymbalta online order piracetam 800mg generic buy piracetam 800 mg generic
Npzxhi 30-04-2023 | 06:00 PM
buy tamsulosin 0.4mg sale buy spironolactone 25mg for sale order aldactone 100mg online cheap
Kogbsj 28-04-2023 | 06:00 PM
ranitidine us celecoxib medication generic celebrex 200mg
Lsdkkr 28-04-2023 | 06:00 PM
toradol 10mg price toradol 10mg pills inderal 20mg usa
Gtvqgk 27-04-2023 | 06:00 PM
how to get sumycin without a prescription order baclofen 10mg baclofen 10mg brand
Mejbxv 26-04-2023 | 06:00 PM
buy imitrex order levofloxacin 500mg generic buy dutasteride sale
Pzxtvc 25-04-2023 | 06:00 PM
rosuvastatin 20mg for sale buy generic ezetimibe online where can i buy motilium
Tzatnx 25-04-2023 | 06:00 PM
losartan usa where can i buy topiramate topiramate 200mg sale
Cfrboi 24-04-2023 | 06:00 PM
buy orlistat 120mg for sale order zyloprim buy zyloprim 300mg online cheap
Iziyxv 23-04-2023 | 06:00 PM
methotrexate 10mg generic buy methotrexate 2.5mg generic reglan 20mg drug
Wonxad 22-04-2023 | 06:00 PM
buy lyrica 150mg online claritin 10mg pill dapoxetine 60mg usa
Rgwvzf 22-04-2023 | 06:00 PM
buy generic zestril 2.5mg prilosec 10mg over the counter buy generic metoprolol
Aocgns 21-04-2023 | 06:00 PM
where can i buy biltricide periactin 4mg cheap buy cyproheptadine 4mg pill
Ldqjmh 21-04-2023 | 06:00 PM
generic metformin 1000mg lipitor 40mg pill norvasc ca
Cwntom 20-04-2023 | 06:00 PM
buy albendazole no prescription order medroxyprogesterone 10mg pills purchase medroxyprogesterone online cheap
Cuofec 20-04-2023 | 06:00 PM
cheap synthroid tablets buy levitra 20mg for sale buy vardenafil paypal
Bhoxmr 19-04-2023 | 06:00 PM
tenormin us buy methylprednisolone 16 mg online buy generic femara 2.5mg
Wwqxlk 18-04-2023 | 06:00 PM
monodox ca buy vibra-tabs sale buy clavulanate tablets
Oaekpv 17-04-2023 | 06:00 PM
buy clomiphene 50mg generic buy clomid 100mg without prescription buy cheap generic hydroxychloroquine
Ggwxiw 16-04-2023 | 06:00 PM
albuterol us synthroid 100mcg for sale purchase synthroid pill
Qetygp 16-04-2023 | 06:00 PM
order prednisolone 20mg for sale order prednisolone for sale buy lasix pills
Nuhweq 15-04-2023 | 06:00 PM
brand neurontin 600mg buy doxycycline 100mg pill monodox sale
Mtclmf 14-04-2023 | 06:00 PM
accutane uk azithromycin brand zithromax 250mg brand
Bvzlen 13-04-2023 | 06:00 PM
amoxicillin 1000mg over the counter oral amoxil 500mg buy prednisolone 20mg pills
Wrugjs 12-04-2023 | 06:00 PM
order provigil 100mg generic promethazine us buy deltasone 5mg generic
Shzfik 12-04-2023 | 06:00 PM
ivermectin us order deltasone 5mg pill accutane online order
Rwcztu 10-04-2023 | 06:00 PM
order cialis 20mg sale generic cialis online ed pills for sale
Rhwhtz 10-04-2023 | 06:00 PM
cialis pills 10mg viagra or cialis sexual dysfunction
Iyddtf 09-04-2023 | 06:00 PM
atorvastatin 80mg sale order generic atorvastatin 10mg order generic sildenafil
Vryija 08-04-2023 | 06:00 PM
where to buy lexapro without a prescription order naltrexone 50 mg pill buy revia online cheap
Hdloiy 07-04-2023 | 06:00 PM
cenforce 50mg brand buy cenforce medication buy glucophage 1000mg online cheap
Ubsuee 06-04-2023 | 06:00 PM
purchase zyrtec online cheap zoloft 50mg pill order sertraline 50mg online cheap
Akltoc 05-04-2023 | 06:00 PM
purchase levaquin for sale purchase actigall without prescription zyban pills
Ytyhku 04-04-2023 | 06:00 PM
coumadin online buy metoclopramide 20mg online cheap zyloprim 100mg without prescription
Yeqnbn 03-04-2023 | 06:00 PM
purchase phenergan online buy cialis once daily cialis 5mg pill
Wfnojl 01-04-2023 | 06:00 PM
buy ezetimibe no prescription buy ezetimibe 10mg pills brand methotrexate 5mg
Kowsaa 01-04-2023 | 06:00 PM
sildenafil viagra sildenafil mail order us buy cialis
Wlrzji 30-03-2023 | 06:00 PM
buy uroxatral 10mg pills order diltiazem generic buy diltiazem 180mg for sale
Slxzfj 30-03-2023 | 06:00 PM
avlosulfon 100 mg sale mesalamine ca order tenormin 50mg for sale
Zawodv 28-03-2023 | 06:00 PM
buy cefdinir 300mg lansoprazole without prescription pantoprazole 40mg for sale
Zkyliq 28-03-2023 | 06:00 PM
simvastatin sale sildenafil 150 mg sildalis cheap