(Belga) The Omicron variant of Covid-19 has many more mutations than the Delta variant, according to a first “image” of this new variant initially detected in South Africa, produced and published by the prestigious Bambino Gesù hospital in Rome.
On this three-dimensional “image”, which looks like a map, “we can clearly see that the Omicron variant presents many more mutations than the Delta variant (which already presents in itself a large number of mutations), concentrated above all in one area of the protein that interacts with human cells, “the team of researchers said in a statement on Sunday. “This does not automatically mean that these variations are more dangerous, just that the virus has further adapted to the human species by generating another variant”, specify the researchers. “Other studies will tell us if this adaptation is neutral, less dangerous or more dangerous.” The Bambino Gesù research team focused in its study on the search for mutations in “the three-dimensional structure of the spike protein”, said Claudia Alteri, professor of clinical microbiology at the State University of Milan and researcher at Bambino Gesù hospital in Rome, interviewed by AFP. This protein, which is the part of the virus “studied with the most attention”, is “responsible for the recognition of the human receptor and the entry of the virus into the cells”. “It is on the spike that monoclonal antibodies and of course vaccines act,” she emphasizes. The image was produced “from the study of the sequences of this new variant made available to the scientific community”, coming mainly “from Bostwana, South Africa and Hong Kong”. “This image, which represents a bit of a map of all the variations, describes the mutations of Omicron but does not define its role,” she underlines. “It will now be important to define, through laboratory experiments, whether the combination of these mutations can have an impact on transmission or on the effectiveness of vaccines, for example,” she concludes. (Belga)