COVID-19 variants

variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus with a different genetic sequence
(Redirected from Omicron)

There are many variants of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Some are believed, or have been stated, to be of particular importance due to their potential for increased transmissibility, increased virulence, or reduced effectiveness of vaccines against them. These variants contribute to the continuation of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of the better known have been: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, and more recently Omicron.



In chronological order

China has a population that’s very vulnerable to this new variant. [Omicron] is a much more contagious variant, it’s going to be harder to control ~Dr. Scott Gottlieb
  • I look at this through a lens of evolution. Early on in the pandemic, I anticipated this would go at least 18 months. That was because the only real perspective I had to understand what this coronavirus might look like was previous influenza pandemics. And I think that many of us assumed that at some point it would become a seasonal infection like influenza after two years or so.
    I got a rude awaking earlier this year in March and April when I saw the new Alpha variant emerge as well as the Beta and Gamma variants, and I had a sense that this was going to change how the pandemic would unfold. As a result, I thought that some of the darkest days of the pandemic would be ahead of us and that was at a time in the spring when case numbers were dropping markedly in the United States and vaccine was flowing. But I realized that variants were like 210-mile-an-hour curveballs, and we couldn't predict if they might have increased transmissibility or the ability to cause severe illness. This conclusion was not popular among many of my colleagues and policy makers.
  • [other countries had seen omicron’s fast growth, but the U.S. data showed] a remarkable jump in such a short time
  • [it’s unclear how much milder omicron really is compared with other variants]. That’s the big uncertainty now
  • Let’s face the facts: Omicron is no big deal. The media, always desperate to panic gullible souls and spread fear, began the countdown to Armageddon and it’s still counting. Actually, Omicron deftly evades antibodies, which are part of the body’s first defenders, but that is Omicron’s only strength. Ironically, those who have been vaccinated, as I have, are more prone to an Omicron attack. Vaccine-induced antibodies perform much worse against Omicron than against other variants. But it’s no big deal. Boosters lessen these infections. I’m 85, and I drink and smoke and stay up late, yet after three days I was once again training and carousing, although I did feel rather funny when starting up again.
  • Scientists from the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), along with national and international experts, are actively monitoring and evaluating this recombinant sub-lineage and the associated studies
[The agency is looking at signs that] XE changes disease severity, transmissibility or impacts the effectiveness of diagnostic tests, vaccines or treatments for COVID-19
  • What is particularly troubling about the newest Omicron wave - not just in the United States but worldwide - is that it appears to hitting highly vaccinated states and countries much more heavily than less vaccinated areas.
  • [T]he death gap between the pro-Trump and pro-Biden counties did shrink slightly over the winter from 2.73 to 2.26.
    That likely was mostly down to the Omicron variant, according to William Hanage, an epidemiologist at Harvard University. Hanage says that Omicron is much more effective at evading masks and other measures to prevent infection. "Before Omicron, actions that people were taking, like masks in schools, would have a really significant impact," he says. "After Omicron they have far less."
  • In the two years since its emergence, Omicron has proved to be not only staggeringly infectious, but an evolutionary marvel, challenging many assumptions virologists had before the pandemic. It has given rise to an impressive number of descendants, which have become far more adept at evading immunity and finding new victims.
    “It was almost like there was another pandemic,” said Adam Lauring, a virologist at the University of Michigan.
  • Omicron’s gift for spreading fast was the result of dozens of mutations. They altered the virus’s surface, so that antibodies produced by vaccines or previous infections could not stick tightly to it and prevent the virus from invading cells.
    “It was the first virus to figure out in a major way how to escape immunity,” said Dr. Jacob Lemieux, an infectious disease specialist at Massachusetts General Hospital.
    Dr. Lemieux and many other Omicron experts suspect that the variant gained its new mutations while infecting a single person with a weak immune system. Immunocompromised people can only fight off some of the coronaviruses in their bodies during an infection, allowing the ones that remain to acquire mutations that can thwart the immune system.
    “It becomes like a laboratory for virus evolution,” said Peter Markov, a virologist at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
Find more information on COVID-19 variants by searching Wikiquote's sister projects
  Encyclopedia articles from Wikipedia
  Dictionary definitions from Wiktionary
  Textbooks from Wikibooks
  Source texts from Wikisource
  Images and media from Commons
  News stories from Wikinews
  Learning resources from Wikiversity