Doctors wearing PPE are looking in front of a home-to-home coronavirus testing drive in Lima, Peru on July 21, 2020.
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London — As cases of new Omicroncovid variants emerge around the world, experts say it is likely that the first identified variant in South Africa last week was already in fashion for some time.
The World Health Organization said Wednesday that five to at least 23 of the six WHO regions reported cases of Omicron, “and we expect that number to increase.” ..
The United States then became the 24th country to identify the first Omicron case.Detected in Fully vaccinated In California, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was confirmed on Wednesday. The second US case Identified by a Minnesota man Health officials in Minnesota said they had symptoms after attending the convention from New York City from November 19th to 21st. He was also fully vaccinated and then recovered, they said.
In particular, the United States, United Kingdom and the EU responded to the news of this variant last week by temporarily suspending flights from southern African countries or introducing strict quarantine for all arriving from the region. ..
This move caused anger in South Africa and criticism from the WHO. WHO said on Wednesday that such reactions could discourage countries that sequence and report viral variants (such as the United Kingdom and South Africa where major Covid variants were found). in the future.
Omicron variant, or officially known B.1.1.529, First reported to WHO from South Africa on 24 November. The first known sample dates back to November 9th...
However, there are increasing signs that this variant was in circulation in other countries before South African health officials warned the world of its existence. Increasingly, they are found without travel connections to the area, suggesting an outbreak of the community.
For example, in Scotland, England, nine cases have been detected dating back to a “single private event” on November 20, and none of the people involved have recently traveled to southern Africa. Is believed to be.
Then on Tuesday, the Netherlands He said he identified the Omicron variant in two test samples taken domestically between November 19 and 23. — Before South Africa first reported this variant and a travel ban was issued. It was initially believed that two flights arriving from South Africa to Amsterdam last Sunday brought the first Omicron cases to the country (currently there are a total of 14 confirmed cases).
On Tuesday, Germany also reported the case of a Leipzig man, Omicron, who had never been abroad and had never been in contact with anyone who had been abroad.
Dr. Angelique Coetzee, chairman of the South African Medical Association and the first doctor to warn about possible variants, began seeing patients with “abnormal symptoms” around November 18, after the BBC. He said he did so on Sunday. It was slightly different from the one associated with the delta mutant, the most virulent strain of virus to date.
Botswana, on the other hand, is one of the countries affected by the Western travel ban in the wake of this variant, from four foreigners who entered the country on November 7th last Friday with a diplomatic mission. Was first detected. It was reported by South Africa) as part of its regular Covid surveillance. It did not identify the alien’s home country.
At a press conference held by WHO’s Africa office on Thursday, a UN agency regional expert told CNBC that the origin of the Omicron variant was unknown, and restricted travel measures imposed on countries in southern Africa. Criticized.
“Our surveillance system in the world is not yet perfect,” Dr. Abdu Salam Guay, regional emergency director for WHO’s Africa office, told CNBC at a press conference Thursday.
“When we detect a variant or virus … we usually detect it a few weeks after it begins to evolve. When a country detects a virus, we can only be confident that the country’s surveillance system is good. This is even more discouraging of travel bans, as it happened in southern Africa, because … it’s like a measure against a good surveillance system. “
He added that the incident was “not unexpected” in Europe.
“Just [with] Investigations are being conducted to find out more about the origin of the virus, “he added.
His colleague Dr Nicksy Gumede-Moeletsi, senior virologist at WHO’s Africa office, told CNBC that the number of countries reporting Omicron variants is increasing daily.
“The majority of these countries [reporting omicron cases] Now … I’m from overseas, not Africa, so I don’t know where it started. Further study of the molecular evolution of Omicron mutants requires very good scientific evidence. “
European-based experts tend to agree that Omicron may be longer and more widely distributed than originally thought.
Moritz Kramer, senior researcher at the Oxford Martin Program on Pandemic Genomics at Oxford University, told CNBC Thursday.
“This is due to limited sequence coverage and surveillance in some countries,” he added, adding that South Africa has an established system of genomic surveillance.
“I personally don’t think there is a widespread undetected cycle for a very long time,” Kramer said. However, he added, he expects the number of countries importing and domestically transmitting Omicron to be much higher than reported.
Experts widely hope that this variant will spread rapidly, given the early signs from South Africa where 74% of the viral genome sequenced last month belonged to the new variant.
Lawrence Young, a professor of molecular oncology at the University of Warwick, told CNBC Wednesday that “it’s not surprising that Omicron is circulating wider and longer than previously reported.”
“Once a variant is identified, the ones that are particularly likely to be infectious spread far beyond the original few cases and countries. This is a world where international travel is very common. It is the nature of the infectious disease in. “
Some epidemiologists speculate that variants of Omicron may have begun to spread internationally around the end of October. This hypothesis was agreed by other experts spoken by CNBC.
Paul Hunter, a professor of medicine at the University of East Anglia’s Norwich School of Medicine, told CNBC Wednesday, given the earliest known Omicron sample taken on November 9 in South Africa, “apparently the infection was a bit circulating. It must be. ” Before that, it’s probably not too early, unless the indexcase is the person whose variant has evolved. “
Danny Altmann, a professor of immunology at Imperial College London, said he “certainly agrees” that the Omicron variant was prevalent before November and it is uncertain whether it occurred in South Africa.
“Points noted by the increase in cases around Houten and the excellent sequence [in South Africa] From the second week of November, we haven’t proved that it happened nearby or that this was the starting point. “
Correction: This story has been updated to reflect the first US case of the Omicron variant detected in California.
Where did the Omicroncovid variant come from, and where does it circulate?
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