//The O variant

The O variant

Worst ever Covid variant? Omicron

B.1.1.529

Increased contagion

Immune escape

Sicker people

WHO, VOC

https://www.who.int/news/item/26-11-2021-classification-of-omicron-(b.1.1.529)-sars-cov-2-variant-of-concern
The Technical Advisory Group on SARS-CoV-2 Virus Evolution
Independent group of experts
First reported to WHO from South Africa on 24th November 2021
South Africa, infections have increased steeply, coinciding with the detection of B.1.1.529 variant
The first known confirmed B.1.1.529 infection was from a specimen collected on 9th November 2021
Preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of reinfection with this variant
The number of cases of this variant appears to be increasing in almost all provinces in South Africa
Current SARS-CoV-2 PCR diagnostics continue to detect this variant.
For one widely used PCR test, one of the three target genes is not detected
(called S gene dropout or S gene target failure)
This variant may have a growth advantage.

How did the new variant develop?

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-03552-w

Professor Francois Balloux, Computational Biology Systems, University College London

Mutated during a chronic infection of a person whose immune system was already weakened by an untreated HIV/Aids infection

Botswana

Discovered, November 11th (collected 9th) 2021 in Botswana

South Africa

77 confirmed cases

90% of new cases in Gauteng, probably B.1.1.529

Early signs of rapid spread in Gauteng province, 900 cases per day

May have spread to eight other provinces in South Africa

SA, fully vaccinated, 24%

Israel

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/global-health/science-and-disease/new-coronavirus-variant-reason-concern-say-researchers/?li_source=LI&li_medium=liftigniter-onward-journey

1 returnee from Malawi

Two other people suspected of having the variant are also in quarantine

All three were fully vaccinated

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett

We are currently on the verge of a state of emergency

Belgium

1 case

Came from Egypt to Belgium on November 11th

First symptoms on November 22nd

Hong Kong

Two cases, from next door in quarantine hotel

Traveller from SA

Penny Moore, virologist, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/nov/25/what-do-we-know-about-the-new-worst-ever-covid-variant

Breakthrough infections have been reported following,

Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer-BioNtech, Oxford-AstraZeneca

R = 2 so far

SA, National Institute for Communicable Diseases

Cases, + 2,465 (nearly double yesterdays)

32 mutations in the spike protein

10 on RBD

(Delta variant has 8 mutations)

Beta (SA) variant has 3

Younger people appear to be contracting and spreading

BioNTech-Pfizer need two weeks to assess new variant’s impact

Would need two weeks at most to assess how well its coronavirus vaccine works against B.1.1.529

may require an adjustment of our vaccine if the variant spreads globally

Global spread

WHO advises risk-based, scientific approach to travel restrictions

risk-based and scientific approach to travel restrictions

WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier

At this point, implementing travel restrictions is being cautioned against

UK flight bans so far

700 arrivals per day to UK from SA

South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Botswana, Eswatini, Zimbabwe

Recent arrivals from southern Africa will also tracked down and offered tests

Germany, Italy, Israel, Kenya, Singapore, Japan, France, Bahrain, Czech Republic have also suspended flights

European Commission, called on members to ban flights

Sajid Javid

very live discussions about adding to the red list

Professor Danny Altmann, immunologist Imperial College

We thought delta was the dominant variant and nothing could displace it –

this looks potentially horrible enough to displace it, if it is allowed to spread.

We have all become pandemic fatigued, yet if this was a report of a terrorist threat, we would now be raising the threat level from amber to red.

Professor Madhukar Pai, global health, McGill University

This is what happens when we leave three billion plus people unvaccinated

Vaccines can be tweaked if needed

Dr Anthony Fauci

Flight ban possible

We need to get the facts

no indication it has yet reached the US

New variant is a red flag

Until it’s properly tested… we don’t know whether or not it evades the antibodies that protect you against the virus

Angelique Coetzee, South African Medical Association

For now, it is a storm in a tea cup

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/live/world-59426277

Peter Horby, Professor of Emerging Infectious Diseases, University of Oxford

many red flags – more than we would’ve expected or ever planned for