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A number of new studies have confirmed the silver lining of the Omicron variant: even if the number of cases reaches record levels, the number of serious cases and hospital admissions is not.
Some scientists say the data points to a new and less worrying chapter in the epidemic. “Now we are at a completely different stage,” said Monica Gandhi, an immunologist at the University of California, San Francisco.
“The virus will always be with us, but I hope this type of immunity is so strong that the Omicron variant was found in South Africa a month ago, and experts warn that it will take a long time before the situation changes, but last week The data suggest that a combination of extensive immunity and numerous mutations caused a virus to cause a much less serious illness than previous recurrences.
A study conducted in South Africa found that patients admitted during the fourth wave, who were dominated by the omicron of the virus, were 73% less likely to develop serious illness than those admitted during the third wave of delta-dominated.
Wendy Burgers, an immunologist at the University of Cape Town, said:
Initially, much of the concern about Omicron was due to the large number of mutations in variants, many of which spike proteins, part of a protein that not only easily infects non-vaccinated people, but also bypasses previous infections and antibody responses from vaccines.
He worked his way through these first lines of defense. Some factors appear to make the Omicron variant less viral or less viral than the previous waves of the Covid 19. The ability of the virus to infect the lungs. Covid infections usually start in the nose and spread to the throat.
Mild infections do not spread to the upper respiratory tract, but when the virus reaches the lungs, it is usually the most difficult and the most common.
But five different studies last week suggested that the variant did not infect the lungs as easily as the previous variant. In a study reprinted online by a large consortium of Japanese and American scientists, omikron-infected hamsters and mice experienced a more serious illness with an earlier recurrence of the virus. During the surgery a few samples of lung tissue were taken from the patients and it was found that in these samples omikron grows more slowly than other types.
Burgers said the change in virulence is probably related to how the anatomy of the virus has changed. Enters the cells, and now it chooses one of them because of all the changes in the spike protein, “she said.
He prefers to infect the upper respiratory tract rather than the lungs. This could mean a less serious infection but also a more contagious one, as the virus replicates more frequently in the upper respiratory tract, from where it can spread more easily than previous vaccines and second-line defense against infections: cells and Cells.
If the antibodies fail to prevent the infection in the first place, then the T-cells are responsible for attacking the virus after it enters the body’s cells. In a recent study by Burger and colleagues, scientists using white blood cells from covid patients showed that about 70-80% of T-cell responses were preserved compared to previous strains of the virus. This means that those who have either been vaccinated or have had a covid infection in the last 6 months are more likely to have their T-cells recognize the omicron and fight it relatively quickly.
This latest research will need to be followed up with more studies. If he holds on to additional investigations, he can only explain why the current infection looks lighter than previous waves of the virus.
“When you start looking at different types of data pointing in the same direction, you feel more confident that it will continue,” said Jessica Justman, an epidemiologist at Columbia University Medical Center.
However, as the cases explode, the total number of hospital admissions and deaths with them will continue to increase, even if that number increases more slowly.
“Even if your cult is huge because so many people get infected, you end up with a lot of people who go to the hospital and need care,” Justman said.
Gandhi, of the University of California at San Francisco, said the number of cases could break records, hoping a combination of highly infected omikrons and mild infections could signal the onset of the disease, according to another study conducted in Hong Kong last week. That patients infected with Omicron were vaccinated and also aroused strong immune responses to other versions of the virus.
This may explain why the number of cases in South Africa is rapidly peaking.
“I hope this type builds deep immunity in the population.” Hopefully the epidemic will end. ,