Omicron variant may tend to cause mild symptoms, Japanese experts say

People infected with the omicron variant of the new coronavirus may tend to have mild or no symptoms, although the infectivity of the variant may be greater than that of the delta variant, experts say.

Experts are rushing to analyze the omicron variant after numerous reports that people fully vaccinated against COVID-19 have been infected with the variant.

The omicron variant, first reported in South Africa, is spreading rapidly around the world. The new variant is quickly replacing the delta variant as the main cause of cases in South Africa, suggesting its high infectivity.

The risk of people developing severe symptoms after being infected with the omicron variant is unknown, but there is some evidence that patients tend to have mild symptoms.

According to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control of the European Union, 109 cases of infection with the omicron variant were found in 16 countries as of Friday, and all those infected had mild or no symptoms, with no report of death. .

The two people who tested positive for the omicron variant during checks at Narita International Airport in Chiba Prefecture also reportedly exhibited mild symptoms, despite having a fever, according to the health ministry.

Takaji Wakita, head of the National Institute of Infectious Diseases, warns against hasty judgment regarding the risk of people infected with the omicron variant developing severe symptoms.

However, another expert said that if the risk of getting seriously ill after infection with the omicron variant is the same as the delta variant and other variants, people may not have to take cons. -additional measures other than the regular precautions of wearing face masks and avoiding closing, crowded settings and close contact, even if community infections with the new variant occur.

Another feature of the omicron variant is breakthrough infection.

The omicron variant has around 30 mutations in the spike protein, which allows the virus to enter human cells, far more than around 10 for the delta variant, according to the NIID. Due to the large number of mutations, vaccines and antibodies that have been developed in previous infections may become ineffective against the new variant.

In fact, the two people infected with the omicron variant in Japan had received two doses of the coronavirus vaccine, including that from US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc.

“Rupture infections can occur with the delta variant. We need to look at the situation a little further to determine if the vaccines are less effective “against the omicron variant, compared to the delta variant,” Wakita said.

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