Omicron is the latest COVID-19 mutant of concern and is expected to change the course of the pandemic. But how are the mutants formed and what is the threat level for fully vaccinated people? Kelly Grindrod, a pharmacist and professor, and Trevor Charles, a professor of biology at the University of Waterloo, provide answers to these questions.
How are COVID variants formed?
Variants are formed through the natural process of evolution. Every time the virus makes a copy of itself, mistakes can occur. These mistakes result in mutations detected by gene sequence analysis, allowing the designation of mutants carrying shared mutations. Many of these mutations do not alter the characteristics of the virus, but some mutations can alter the characteristics of the virus, such as infectivity, disease severity, and antigenic escape. Mutations that result from having these mutations are classified as mutations of concern.
What does that mean for people who are already fully vaccinated with these new variants?
Whenever you find a mutation of concern, you need to answer three questions:
- Are the variants more susceptible to transmission (ie, faster or easier to spread)?
- Do variants cause more serious or milder illnesses?
- How well does our vaccine protect against mutants?
The Omicron Variant of concern appears to be much more contagious than Delta. I don’t know if the weeks are more or less serious.
Vaccines provide excellent protection against severe illness, hospitalization, and death from COVID, including mutant strains of concern such as Delta.I hope the vaccine will continue to protect us Severe illness At Omicron.
However, in each variant, the vaccine appears to be less effective in protecting against symptomatic illnesses. This means protecting us from infections and mild to moderate symptoms. Many people need a third dose of the vaccine to protect them from Omicron. Similarly, the reinfection rate with Omicron is higher. This means that people who had innate immunity from previous COVID infections will also benefit from at least two doses of the vaccine to protect them from Omicron.
It’s important to note that you’re not starting from the beginning. Mutant Of concern like Omicron.Each dose of vaccination Helped our immune system recognize the virus. Therefore, being vaccinated provides more protection than being unvaccinated and remaining unprotected.
Is it possible to see new variants over a long period of time?
Looking to the future, what we can be sure of knows is mutation It’s always happening. It is impossible to predict the outcome, as no one could have predicted a variant of Delta or Omicron.Track virus Through sequencing (both clinical specimens and wastewater), we continue to provide information on the evolution of mutants.
University of Waterloo
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