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Thursday August 11, 2022

Variant of concern: Omicron contains 50 mutations, 32 in spike protein

By News Desk
December 01, 2021
Variant of concern: Omicron contains 50 mutations, 32 in spike protein

KARACHI: The World Health Organization has designated the new variant of Covid-19 'Omicron' as a variant of concern. The new variant can turn out to be fatal for those with weak immune systems.

Like other diseases, coronavirus is also going through a transformation phase and, so far, various variants have come to the fore. The new variant of coronavirus Omicron originated in South Africa and is quite different than the one that broke out in December 2019.

The most striking revelation about this variant is that its genetical structure contains around 50 mutations. A total of 32 mutations are found in spike protein, from which the novel virus enters into the human body. The technical term used for the virus is B.1.1529. The risks of re-infection in the new variant are higher than other variants. For that reason, the World Health Organization has designated it as “a variant of concern.” Before this variant, four other variants were designated as variants of concern.

Tracing back the history of coronavirus variations, South Africa was also the hub of another variant of corona – Beta. It spread to around 146 countries across the world and its spike protein contained 10 mutations. The positivity rate of the Beta variant 2021 remained less than 0.1 percent for a month ranging from September 20-November 19, 2021.

Another variant of coronavirus “Alpha” was reported from England in September 2020. It had 11 mutations and routed to 197 countries with a positivity rate less than 0.1 percent from September 20-November 19, 2021.

Yet another variant of coronavirus Gamma stemmed from Brazil in November 2020. With 12 mutations, the Gamma variant spread to over 103 countries. Little higher than Alpha and Beta, the positivity rate of Gamma during the corresponding period also remained at 0.1 percent.

Another variant of coronavirus, Delta, emerged from India in October 2020. With 12 mutations, Delta spread rapidly and it engulfed 196 countries. As many as 99.8 percent samples were found infectious during September 20-November 19, 2021.

Contrary to Delta, the Omicron has so far spread to more than 10 countries. As many as 32 mutations have been detected in a research. However, apprehensions for its rapid spread and being fatal could turn out to be false as was the case with Beta, which was also regarded as dangerous. On the other hand, the Delta variant emerged as more lethal, which spread with a lightning speed across the world.

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