New Omicron subvariant spreads faster than original strain: Report
The newest version of the extremely infectious omicron variant is spreading much faster than the original, and moderate instances of the original may not provide any protection against subsequent infections, according to a study. The severity of an Omicron infection appears to be linked to the generation of neutralizing antibodies, said the study by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco.
- The findings raised questions on hopes that the Omicron wave currently sweeping the globe may hasten the end of the pandemic.
- As people become tired of pandemic limitations, vaccines get more affordable, and mortality stays low, calls for governments to treat COVID-19 as an endemic like influenza are growing worldwide.
- Till Tuesday, there were more than 379 million cases of COVID-19 reported worldwide.
A natural infection provided roughly one-third of the protection provided by a booster dose, states the study. "Our results suggest that omicron-induced immunity may not be sufficient to prevent infection from another, more pathogenic variant, should it emerge in the future," the researchers said. "They highlight the continued importance of boosters in enhancing immunity, as breakthrough infection alone may not be reliable," they said.
Another research found that a second-generation strain of Omicron is more contagious than the original strain. It revealed that 39% of people infected with the BA.2 subvariant were likely to infect someone in the family, compared to 29% who were infected with the original strain. The researchers took data from 8,541 households in Denmark in December and January.
According to the researchers, the likelihood of infection with either kind was higher in those who are unvaccinated, indicating that vaccination has a favorable effect. The findings support research published last week by UK health authorities, which indicated that the subvariant is more contagious than the original strain. The new subvariant is increasing in countries like India and UK, said the World Health Organization.
Since its inception in 2019, the virus has claimed 5,693,527 lives worldwide, while more than 299 million people have recovered from the disease, according to Worldometers. The daily cases on January 31 stood at 2,202,719, down from 3,783,270 reported on January 21. The single-day deaths also declined to 8,083 cases on January 31, from 10,939 reported on January 26.