Variant name: Omicron or B.1.1.529
Discovers: South African scientists
Origin: Unclear location. Discovered on November 25 in South Africa, cases also detected in Hongkong and Botswana. November 26, detected in Belgium and Israel.
On November 23, scientists discovered a new variant with a “very unusual constellation of mutations.”
Tulio de Oliveira, a leading virologist, said there were around 50 mutations in total, including 30 on the spike protein, which is the focus of most vaccines because it allows the virus to enter cells.
According to official data, the daily COVID-19 positivity rate in Omicron cases increased this week from 3.6 percent on Wednesday to 6.5 percent on Thursday, 9.1 percent on Friday, and 9.2 percent on Saturday. The variant spread quickly and easily.
A few of the genetic mutations displayed by the virus are known to allow the virus to evade immunity.
However, it is unclear what effect this will have on vaccines.