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Coronavirus Watch

Omicron Variant Contains Common-cold Virus

The Omicron variant cases in the US have been reported from 12 states, however health authorities are still concerned about the Delta Variant.

According to CNN, as of Friday the newest coronavirus variant were identified in California, Colorado, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Utah.

Omicron contains common-cold virus

In the Reuters News, Nancy Lapid writes quoting researchers that the Omicron variant might have picked-up “a snippet of genetic material from another virus – possibly one that causes the common cold – present in the same infected cells” through a process called recombination.

By inserting this particular snippet into itself, Omicron might be making itself look “more human,” which would help it evade attack by the human immune system.

– Venky Soundararajan of Cambridge, Massachusetts-based data analytics firm nference (source: Reuters)

According to the researchers, “the virus could have picked up the genetic material if it was infecting someone who was infected with HCoV-229E — one of the coronaviruses that cause common colds in humans — at the same time”.

“We probably missed many generations of recombinations” that occurred over time and that led to the emergence of Omicron.

– Venky Soundararajan of Cambridge, Massachusetts-based data analytics firm nference (source: Reuters)

Researchers reportedly wondering “how the Omicron variant got so many scary mutations so quickly” and speculate that “the numerous changes in the coronavirus’s spike protein could have arisen in an isolated population or an immunocompromised person, or in animals”.

The Reuters adds: “This could mean the virus transmits more easily, while only causing mild or asymptomatic disease. Scientists do not yet know whether Omicron is more infectious than other variants, whether it causes more severe disease or whether it will overtake Delta as the most prevalent variant. It may take several weeks to get answers to these questions.”

Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, chief scientist at the World Health Organization, said at a ReutersNEXT Global Conference “the majority of cases reported so far have reported to be mild. Many of them have been vaccinated individuals, so that could be one reason why. But, it’s too early for us to conclude that this is a mild version.”

Coronavirus-19 vaccination watch

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID vaccination tracker page (as of Dec 5, 9 a.m.) 580,417,105 doses have been distributed and 470,297,846 doses administered. According MDH COVID-19 Response vaccine data (as of Dec 1) a total of 7,938,605 doses of Covid-19 (Pfizer & Moderna) vaccines have been administered in Minnesota. According to the MDH latest tally (as of Dec 3) the confirmed COVID-19 cases in Minnesota are 926,931 (out of 15,063,685 tested) with 9,616 deaths.