'Omicron a deviant': Virologist says probably 2 pandemics going on side by side

Updated on Jan 16, 2022 02:43 PM IST

Omicron is a distant relative of Wuhan-D614G but did not come directly from Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, Kappa or Mu, virologist Dr T Jacob John said. 

Shops in Delhi's Lajpat Nagar Market remain closed as weekend lockdown is going on in Delhi. (PTI)
Shops in Delhi's Lajpat Nagar Market remain closed as weekend lockdown is going on in Delhi. (PTI)
By | Written by Poulomi Ghosh

At a time when scientists are exploring whether Omicron is a different pandemic altogether, virologist and former chief of the Indian Council of Medical Research Dr T Jacob John said it is very likely that two pandemics are going on side by side -- one by the Delta and the other by Omicron.

Providing some fresh insight into the origin of Omicron, the virologist told news agency PTI that Omicron is not "fathered, or mothered, by Wuhan-D614G, Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, Kappa or Mu and that much is for sure".

According to Dr Jacob, Omicron's immediate parentage is not known but it has some distant connection with Wuhan-D614G, which began the pandemic.

"Since Omicron is illegitimate or 'deviant' from COVID-19 pandemic progression script, we must think of two pandemics going on side by side -- Delta and close relatives, and Omicron and its variants in future.

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This is also the reason why people infected by Omicron, which can only be confirmed by genome sequencing, are reporting different symptoms than traditional Covid, Dr Jacob said. Traditional Covid impacts the respiratory system, while Omicron's effect is mostly in the throat region.

As far as the peak of the third wave is concerned, Dr Jacob said metro cities will reach and end the peak of Omicron faster.

Recently, John Bell, a professor of medicine at the University of Oxford, said Omicron is not causing the same disease as the previous Covid strains.

Omicron was first identified in South Africa in November 2021. Initially, it was thought to be a mild variant leading to fewer complications and hospitalisation. It was also seen as the beginning of the end of the pandemic. However, following Omicron's fast transmission and its impact on unvaccinated people, scientists are now saying that Omicron is not mild, but less severe for vaccinated people. A more dangerous variant or a combination of variants might be the future of the pandemic.

(With agency inputs)

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