What we learn from the progression of the Omicron variant in South Africa

DECRYPTION – Is it more dangerous than the previous strains? Does it escape our immune system? Based on more recent data, Le Figaro takes stock of this new variant of Covid-19.

Since the alert was issued last week by South Africa, scientists around the world have looked into the Omicron variant. Geneticists, virologists, microbiologists, epidemiologists, multiply the hypotheses, analyzes and scenarios based on the still incomplete data at their disposal.

• Where and how did the Omicron variant appear?

No one knows where or when the Omicron variant emerged. But the genetic data make it possible to establish two elements: on the one hand, it is a strain that diverged a very long time ago from the rest of its cousins, in the spring of 2020 a priori; and, on the other hand, it has accumulated an extremely large number of mutations, without being detected until November 2021. Three scenarios are possible: either the virus has circulated for a long time in a region of the world without ever being detected, gradually accumulating these mutations over time; either the transformation has occurred in a single, presumably immunocompromised individual in whom the disease

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