Omicron lung an infection much less extreme, replicates sooner than delta in human airways: Examine

A nurse Nurse views the lung x-rays of a Covid affected person on October 13, 2021 on the Casalpalocco hospital, south of Rome.

Alberto Pizzoli | AFP | Getty Pictures

The omicron variant of Covid-19 replicates 70 instances sooner in human airways than delta, however an infection within the lungs seems to be much less extreme in comparison with the unique virus pressure, in response to a examine revealed this week by researchers on the College of Hong Kong’s School of Medication.

Dr. Michael Chan Chi-wai and a crew of researchers discovered that the variant replicates a lot sooner within the bronchus, which connects the windpipe to the lungs, 24 hours after an infection. But it reproduces greater than 10 instances slower within the precise human lung tissue, they mentioned.

The examine is beneath peer evaluate. Researchers have been publishing their findings earlier than peer evaluate is accomplished because of the pressing nature of the pandemic.

Omicron’s speedy replication within the airway could clarify why it transmits sooner than earlier variants of the virus, however decrease an infection within the lungs could point out that it causes much less extreme illness, in response to the examine’s findings.

“You will need to notice that the severity of illness in people just isn’t decided solely by virus replication but in addition by the host immune response to the an infection,” Chan mentioned in a press release.

Chan famous {that a} extremely contagious virus like omicron could trigger extra extreme illness and demise just by spreading a lot sooner, although the lung an infection seems not as unhealthy.

“Due to this fact, taken along with our current research exhibiting that the omicron variant can partially escape immunity from vaccines and previous an infection, the general menace from Omicron variant is more likely to be very important,” Chan cautioned.

White Home chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci, citing information from South Africa, mentioned Wednesday that omicron reduces the safety of Pfizer and BioNTech’s two-dose vaccine in opposition to an infection to 33%, in comparison with 80% safety earlier than the variant emerged.

Nevertheless, the two-dose vaccine remains to be 70% efficient at stopping hospitalization, Fauci mentioned. Pfizer’s booster dose supplies 75% safety in opposition to symptomatic illness, he mentioned, citing information from the U.Ok. Well being Safety Company.

Pfizer and BioNTech have additionally revealed preliminary information from their very own lab examine exhibiting boosters are efficient in opposition to omicron, however the preliminary two-dose sequence is considerably hit by omicron.

The World Well being Group on Tuesday mentioned omicron spreading sooner than any earlier Covid variant. Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’S Covid-19 technical lead, cautioned in opposition to treating omicron as a light pressure.

“We all know that individuals contaminated with omicron can have the complete spectrum of illness, from asymptomatic an infection to delicate illness, all the way in which to extreme illness to demise,” Van Kerkhove instructed the general public throughout a query and reply session.

She warned that elevated transmission will result in extra hospitalizations, burdening already strapped health-care methods.

“If a system is overburdened, then individuals will die,” Van Kerkhove mentioned. “We now have to be actually cautious that there is not a story on the market that it is only a delicate illness.”

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