Will Omicron be as deadly as Delta!: It’s too early to say whether the newly identified variant is going to overtake Delta. But particular mutations in the new strain have researchers worried.
A new variant named Omicron (B.1.1.529) was reported by researchers in South Africa on November 24, and designated a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization two days later. Omicron is very unusual in that it is by far the most heavily mutated variant yet of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19.
The Omicron variant has 50 mutations overall, with 32 mutations on the spike protein alone. The spike protein – which forms protruding knobs on the outside of the SARS-CoV-2 virus – helps the virus adhere to cells so that it can gain entry. It is also the protein that all three vaccines currently available in the US use to induce protective antibodies.
Why Omicron is a variant of concern
Not every strain of Covid-19 garners as much attention as a select few of them including Delta and Omicron. Virus mutations are very common and not every variant would get a name because the process of evolution is an ongoing one.