Omicron is the new COVID kid on the block: five steps to avoid, ten to take immediately
South Africa reacted with outrage to travel bans, first triggered by the UK, imposed on it in the wake of the news that its genomics surveillance team had detected a new variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The Network for Genomics Surveillance in South Africa has been monitoring changes in SARS-CoV-2 since the pandemic first broke out.
The new variant – identified as B.1.1.529 has been declared a variant of concern by the World Health Organisation and assigned the name Omicron.
The mutations identified in Omicron provide theoretical concerns that the variant could be slightly more transmissible than the Delta variant and have reduced sensitivity to antibody activity induced by past infection or vaccines compared to how well the antibody neutralises ancestry virus.
As vaccines differ in the magnitude of neutralising antibody induced, the extent to which vaccines are compromised in preventing infections due to Omicron will likely differ, as was the case for the Beta variant.