Omicron – milder than expected?

The new omicron variant is particularly infectious and can bypass the immune response more quickly. The variant is already gaining ground in Denmark and Great Britain, and Omikron has also arrived in Germany. But how dangerous is the corona mutation?

A first study indicates a rather milder course of COVID-19 with the omicron variant, but experts urge caution.

Omikron: Low risk of a severe course?

A research team analyzed the first data from Omicron-infected people in the period from October to November. According to the calculations, patients with Omicron have an 80 percent lower risk of hospitalization. People who had to be treated in the clinic show no difference to previous virus variants.

Sandra Ciesek, Director of the Institute for Medical Virology at the University Hospital Frankfurt, told the Science Media Center last week that the data from South Africa is difficult to assess: “We cannot compare it one-to-one with South Africa, the population is not comparable to that Europeans. They are significantly younger on average, they had a significantly higher infection rate, which means that many have already recovered and that is not the case here. That is why there is protection against serious illness, as will be the case here in Germany, cannot, however, be transferred directly to it.”

The first studies from Great Britain also indicate a milder course. Since many people have already  contracted COVID-19  here and the data situation is still clear, further studies are urgently needed.

It is not yet clear how Omikron will ultimately behave in Germany. A higher amount of data is needed to provide further insights.

Omicron variant behaves differently in the body

Another unpublished study from the University of Hong Kong gives the first indications of how the virus behaves in the body. Initial laboratory tests indicate that the virus could spread up to 70 times faster in the bronchi than the previously dominant delta variant and the original form of SARS-CoV-2. In human lung tissue, on the other hand, the spread is ten times lower than with previous variants.

Overall, this could indicate a lower severity of the disease. However, the researchers emphasize that complications from COVID-19 disease can also be triggered by an extreme reaction of the  immune system  . The extent to which the human body reacts to the virus cannot be demonstrated in this laboratory study.

According to the authors, the omicron variant should not be underestimated despite the study results.

The virus is highly infectious and can cause a fifth corona wave. Even if milder courses can occur overall, the health system can be pushed to its limits due to the number of cases. AHA rules, regular testing and social distancing are still needed to prevent and slow the spread of the virus.


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