COVID-19 Omicron variant is less lethal – Obaje

Dr Jonathan Obaje

Dr Jonathan Obaje speaks on Omicron

By Fortune Abang

Dr Jonathan Obaje, a Nigerian research scientist based in Singapore, said that global Clinic data has confirmed that the omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus is less lethal than earlier variants.

Obaje, a former Vice President of Nigeria in Diaspora, Singapore, said this on Sunday in a telephone interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

“We must remember that the severe acute respiratory syndrome Covid virus (SARS-COV) of 2002 was eventually weakened to common flu by our innate immunities.

“The human immunity system is the most powerful and most sophisticated defence system that has sustained humanity for ages. Advances in science and technology are great, but they have their own limitations.

“We now have enough scientific capabilities to confirm in one more week, whether or not Omicron variant is less lethal than Delta variant. So far, many reports from across the globe indicate so.

“In event that Omicron is confirmed less lethal, scientific expedient action thereafter will be for everyone to open gates, for Omicron to quickly spread and become dominant globally. Omicron will then become the new harmless COVID-19 virus.

“Such will be the best way to save humanity from further COVID-19 calamity; current negative media hype, panic and political measures are unscientific, we are most likely going to have “Merry Christmas with the African Omicron.”

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Venky Soundararajan of Cambridge, Massachusetts-based data analytics firm nference also said the Omicron variant likely acquired at least one of its mutations by picking up a snippet of genetic material from another virus – possibly one that causes the common cold – present in the same infected cells, according to researchers.

This genetic sequence does not appear in any earlier versions of the coronavirus, called SARS-CoV-2, but is ubiquitous in many other viruses including those that cause the common cold, and also in the human genome, researchers said.

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, said Soundararajan, who led the study posted on Thursday on the website OSF Preprints.

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.

Cells in the lungs and in the gastrointestinal system can harbour SARS-CoV-2 and common-cold coronaviruses simultaneously, according to earlier studies. Such co-infection sets the scene for viral recombination, a process in which two different viruses in the same host cell interact while making copies of themselves, generating new copies that have some genetic material from both “parents.”

This new mutation could have first occurred in a person infected with both pathogens when a version of SARS-CoV-2 picked up the genetic sequence from the other virus, Soundararajan and colleagues said in the study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed.

NAN and Reuters

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