What we know about the possibly more infectious Omicron variant so far, Health News, ET HealthWorld

The recently discovered variant of coronavirus, Omicron has sparked fear across the globe world because of its rapid transmissibility. The scientists in South African where it was detected informed that this new variant of the SARS-CoV-2 with numerous mutations, possibly highly infectious than the variants detected earlier. The World Health Organisation (WHO) classifying the newly detected mutated virus as the ‘Variant of Concern’ . Here’s what we know about the virus so far.

What are mutations noticed in the Omicron variant?

Experts from Centre for Epidemic Response and Innovation in South Africa have noted that the new variant has over 50 mutations, with over 30 mutations detected in the spike protein which can particularly be a cause of concern as it is the region through which virus enters the body and has been used as the target region for multiple vaccines against Covid. Some of the mutations witnessed in the Omicron variant as of yet are H655Y + N679K + P681H, Deletion of nsp6, deletions at positions 69 & 70 and R203K+G204R which in preliminary analysis suggests has increased transmissibility and can possibly evade the immunity against virus.

Is the variant more transmissible than the earlier variants?
The variant has

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This gene is key to how antibodies develop, Health News, ET HealthWorld

Canadian researchers have discovered an overlooked gene that plays a major role in the development of antibodies, which help the immune system recognize and fight viruses including SARS-CoV-2, bacteria and other causes of infectious disease.

The gene – FAM72A – facilitates production of high-quality antibodies by enabling the effect of an enzyme called AID (for Activation-Induced Deaminase), the researchers showed.

Immunologists have known for two decades that AID is essential to produce antibodies capable of clearing infections, but the full mechanism of its effect has remained unknown.

“Our findings answer the long-standing question of how AID does its work,” said Alberto Martin, a professor of immunology at the University of Toronto’s Temerty Faculty of Medicine.

“FAM72A helps AID to promote mutations in antibody genes that are essential for the development of effective antibodies,” he added.

Genetic mutations that lead to lasting changes in DNA occur through a process called mutagenesis. In the context of antibody development, mutagenesis unfolds largely through the AID-driven mechanisms called somatic hypermutation and class switch recombination — both of which help antibodies gain the diversity and potency they need to counter a wide range of pathogens.

The results published in the journal Nature will help researchers

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New Covid variant: Chris Whitty on why scientists are concerned about new Covid variant

Professor Whitty says several cases of the new variant, Omicron, have been imported into other countries from southern Africa, and the spread is expected to continue.

He says the concern over the new variant is linked to the rapid spread, as illustrated in the Gauteng province in South Africa where it was first detected.

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‘Be vigilant’, WHO tells Southeast Asia countries amid case surge, emergence of new variant, Health News, ET HealthWorld

Amid the detection of a new coronavirus variant and surge in cases elsewhere, the WHO Saturday asked countries in the southeast Asia region to scale up surveillance, strengthen public health and social measures, and enhance vaccination coverage.

The global health body said festivities and celebrations must include all precautionary measures and crowds and large gatherings must be avoided.

“At no cost should we let our guards down,” said Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO, South-East Asia Region.

“Though COVID-19 cases have been declining in most countries of our Region, the surge in cases elsewhere in the world and confirmation of a new Variant of Concern, is a reminder of the persisting risk and the need for us to continue to do our best to protect against the virus and prevent its spread,” she said in a statement.

Countries must enhance surveillance and sequencing, she said.

Based on updated information on circulating variants and response capacities, they should assess the risk of importation through international travel and take measures accordingly, she said.

Comprehensive and tailored public health and social measures to prevent transmission must continue, Singh stressed, noting that the earlier the protective measures are implemented, the less restrictive they

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