NewsCorona variant Omikron: New version discovered that is difficult...

Corona variant Omikron: New version discovered that is difficult to detect

Scientists have discovered a new version of the Corona variant Omikron. Obviously, this cannot be reliably detected by a PCR test.

Frankfurt – A “secret” version of the Corona variant Omikron is supposed to spread worldwide. Researchers have already found them in South Africa, Australia and Canada. The mutant was given the name secretly (“stealth”) due to a certain genetic change that prevents the new version of Omikron from being reliably detected by a PCR test.

“The stealth variant has many mutations with the standard omicron, but it lacks a certain genetic mutation that allows laboratory-based PCR testing to be used as a crude and simple means of identifying likely cases,” explain Ian Sample and Peter Walker by The Guardian newspaper.

New version of the Corona variant Omikron cannot be determined more precisely in the PCR test

Researchers in the UK became aware of the deviation from an explosive increase in the number of cases of infection with the original Omikron variant. Within a day, the number of cases rose from 101 to 437. The new version of the corona variant can be detected as a coronavirus with all common tests, but a PCR test cannot be used to narrow down it to a specific variant. So far, seven cases have been officially proven, none of them in Great Britain (as of December 7, 2021; source: The Guardian).

This new version of the omicron mutant shows many of the original mutations, but already shows a different behavior due to the genetic deviation. This fact led scientists to designate the standard form of Omikron as BA.1 and the new version as BA.2.

Omikron BA.1 and BA.2: New version of the Corona variant appeared

Francois Balloux, the director of the University College London Genetics Institute, spoke of the fact that there are two lineages within Omikron, “BA.1 and BA.2, which are genetically very different” and could behave differently.

According to Sample and Walker, PCR tests can generally only provide an initial assessment of the virus variant. This is confirmed by a genome analysis. Omikron showed a similar behavior to the alpha mutant in a PCR test and could therefore not be reliably detected.

Corona: “Stealth” character of the new Omikron version leaves researchers worried

According to the researchers cited, a great unknown is how Omikron BA.2 was created. The genetic differences are so great that it could qualify as a new “questionable variant” if it showed a similarly rapid spread as Omikron BA.1.

The appearance of both Omikron versions in quick succession and with so many matching mutations is “worrying”. Due to the “stealth” character of BA.2, the surveillance of the public health system is missing “a big piece of the puzzle”.

In the video: WHO expert – No increase in the severity of the Omikron variant

New version of the Corona variant Omikron: symptoms and vaccine effectiveness not yet researched

How the symptoms differ between the new Omikron version and the standard version is also not known. So far, people who have been infected with the original Corona variant Omikron in South Africa have not been seriously ill: However, they show unusual symptoms.

The effectiveness of the corona vaccines in the new Omikron version has not yet been researched either. According to a study, the original Omikron variant can partially bypass the protective effect of the Biontech vaccination. (jey)

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