How is the Omicron variant different and why are scientists so concerned? – CTV

December 1, 2021

CANMORE, ALTA. — Scientists around the world are racing to learn more about the newly discovered B.1.1.529 coronavirus variant, now known as Omicron, to see how it compares to other variants of concern.

The important questions – like how transmissible it is, how good it is at evading immunity from vaccines or past illness, and whether it causes more severe illness – remain to be answered.

While some scientists say it will be weeks before we get a clear picture of how Omicron will impact the pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Wednesday it expects to have more information on the transmissibility of the variant within days.

What we do know about this variant is that it contains more than 30 mutations in the spike protein, which allows it to bind to human cells and gain entry to the body – a factor that has elevated concerns for some scientists.

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