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OMICRON Covid-19 variant alert

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
This new variant has been spreading fast in South Africa and countries are closing borders to flights from their!


That country has proved a hotbed for the virus spread, as only 35% are vaccinated.


“In the event that vaccine-escape variant emerges, Pfizer and BioNTech expect to be able to develop and produce a tailor-made vaccine against that variant in approximately 100 days, subject to regulatory approval,” a Pfizer spokesperson said in a statement.

We don’t know that Omicron will displace thr DELTA variant, but it does have a worrysome >30 novel mutations in the spike protein against which current vaccines act!

ADVICE: please get vaccinated with whatever COVID-19 shot available ASAP and get the series of 3 completed.

We have no usable knowledge yet as to lethality, but just if it’s more transmissible that alonecould be a disaster!

Don’t hazard to bet against COVID this virus, my very skilled smart young plumber is now fighting for his life because he did!

Asher
 

Jerome Marot

Well-known member
That country has proved a hotbed for the virus spread, as only 35% are vaccinated.
Actually, it is not even clear whether that particular mutation happened in South Africa first. The reason why two variants of concern were discovered in that particular country could rather be that they have good testing procedures and good labs.

The population of South Africa is 60 millions. There are more unvaccinated people in the USA than in South Africa. BTW, the rate of infection in northern US states is similar to the one in Europe now.

Statistics are difficult. If new mutations should appear, India is probably the most likely place from the figures alone.

I agree with the advice to get vaccinated, of course.
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Of course, let’s not stigmatize South Africa for having expert virology labs

The concern is that this variant appears to have taken up on its own to form its own dynasty. We do not yet know how it competes against the Delta variant.

It’s the amazing number of mutation in the spike protein that gives scientists pause!

What’s great is that we can respond fast too and get mRNA vaccines to meet this new challenge should it prove necessary.

Asher
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
I’d go for the simplest explanation and that is chronic infection in a single individual. That itself would provide a new avenue for challenging study!

Asher
 

Jerome Marot

Well-known member
I am not so satisfied by the theory "chronic infection". It would imply:
  1. that the individual was infected for months, yet did not die or was not admitted to a hospital able to do genetic tests and find out it was a mutation
  2. that the virus did not spread from that particular individual for a long time.
It is not impossible, but has implication about individuals being able to be host for a long time without obvious signs of disease and then release the infection. I am not a virologist, but I am not convinced.
 

Jerome Marot

Well-known member
The other option is "an extended period of circulation in a country with poor genomic surveillance". Their are many such countries in the same continent as South Africa (and other continents as well). That also has implications, but they are less worrying. The virus was not noticed for about a year, meaning it was not so infectious or not so lethal. When people start suffocating an dying left and right, even the countries with the poorest genomic surveillance start to notice.
But today, the virus spreads in South Africa, so something must have changed. Possible hypothesis imply climate (including heating or air conditioning) or a particular genetic sensitivity in the South African population. In that respect, the population of South Africa is genetically diverse with two main groups (Zulu or European ascendants). If there is a link with genetics, South Africa is definitely the country to find out.
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Jérôme,

This could be someone in a small shanty town with little contact with others, except a daughter who visits every week or so, to bring groceries.

Thr daughter is immune so doesn’t spread it. After many weeks, a new person visits and the infection gets back to the general pool!

Simplest explanations are best!

Asher
 

Jerome Marot

Well-known member
In that case, we have a person who hosts a sublethal infection for months, while shedding viruses. Does that seem likely to you?
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
In that case, we have a person who hosts a sublethal infection for months, while shedding viruses. Does that seem likely to you?
Sure. Not always shedding virus by sneezing. Perhaps periods of being relatively well. But this person is anyway pretty inactive with other chronic conditions and hardly goes anywhere and is pretty well housebound!

Asher
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
I see five major issues:

1. Vaccine hesitancy: folk in South Africa highly resistant to getting a vaccine shot for Covid-19

2. South Africa has excess inventory of vaccine, so it’s over supplied!

3: Most of Africa unvaccinated making it a fertile breeding ground for new variants.

4. Vaccine inequity: most countries lack vaccine supply.

5. Moderna refuses to share secrets of lipid packaging which would allow African self production of vaccine within one year as opposed to a 3 year research period!

Still, so far, apart from being highly infectious, those infected seem to be mildly ill.

we have no information on severity in at risk and especially susceptible people!

Asher
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
I will receive the third dose, the 2.ed December ! (y)
Portugal and Spain do better at accepting these vaccines!

Number of COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in Europe as of November 25, 2021, by country (per 100 population)

6E185E41-F5F8-4442-A9D2-DF5A58E3050C.jpeg



What is in their character that makes them follow science better than others?

Asher
 
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Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
I really don't know Asher ! :unsure:
Yes, but much of Africa is also devoid of Covid-19 cases.
That is a separate but most important topic. It could be that prior infections has made the population partly immune. Also, pour nutrition might impaircthevimmubecrespinse so the over expression of immunity that causes tissue damage will be less. So disease might be less severe when infection does occur.

The studies are ongoing.

But in South Africa thr new variant appears to be spreading now. This variant might be moth more transmissible and paradoxically less lethal.

Right now we just don’t know. But if I had to bet, the 50 changes in the spike protein occurring in a few people doesn’t have to be worse than the Delta variant.

Asher
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Another extreme possibility: this mutated virus could well escape full immunity of vaccinated people but spread with mild illness and paradoxically add to the overall background of protection against other Covid -18 variants.

In other words, this highly mutated virus might be partially attenuate, (and especially if it is highly transmissible), may act as a natural albeit, (rather weak), vaccine!

it all depends on how lethal it turns out go be when a large population is infected!

Asher
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Yes, from what’s coming in so far, seems highly contagious and mild!

Hopefully this could help tame the entire pandemic if it’s not lethal and outcompetes Delta!
 

Jerome Marot

Well-known member
That is a separate but most important topic. It could be that prior infections has made the population partly immune. Also, pour nutrition might impair the immune response so the over expression of immunity that causes tissue damage will be less. So disease might be less severe when infection does occur.
That is one theory: that the severe covid-19 cases are due to an overreaction of the human immune system and that the people from Africa do not express that overreaction as much as European people, who have evolved to resist epidemics for millennia.

Another theory is that covid-19 is linked to being indoors and that south America uses air conditioning a lot more than underdeveloped Africa.

Obviously we can craft such fascinating theories by the dozen before having a chance to know whether they correspond to the facts. Scientists have studied why another epidemics, AIDS, is more prevalent in Africa than anywhere else for the past 30 years and still do not know.



But in South Africa the new variant appears to be spreading now. This variant might be moth more transmissible and paradoxically less lethal.
Indeed the theory that this new variant could serve as a natural vaccine is seducing. But we don't know. Neither do we know why the last coronavirus epidemics disappeared (SARS in 2002-2003).
 
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