Omicron strain 4.2 times more transmissible in its early stage than Delta: Study

  • The study confirms the fears that omicron could deal the world a bigger blow than the delta strain.
The study confirms the fears that omicron could deal the world a bigger blow than the delta strain. (Representational image)
The study confirms the fears that omicron could deal the world a bigger blow than the delta strain. (Representational image)
Updated on Dec 09, 2021 03:37 PM IST
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Written by Shubhangi Gupta | Edited by Sohini Goswami, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

As fresh cases of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 continue to emerge from across the world, sparking concerns regarding its contagiousness, a study conducted by a Japanese scientist has found the new strain to be 4.2 times more transmissible in its early stage than delta that had wreaked havoc earlier this year.

“The omicron variant transmits more, and escapes immunity built naturally and through vaccines more,” an article in Bloomberg quoted scientist Hiroshi Nishiura as saying in his findings that were presented at a meeting of the health ministry’s advisory panel on Wednesday.

Nishiura is a professor of health and environmental sciences at Kyoto University and advises the country’s health ministry.

Also read | US, Europe report high Covid-19 cases among children as Omicron sparks concerns

According to the report, he analysed genome data available through November 26 in South Africans in Gauteng province. Nishiura’s study has not been peer-reviewed and published in a scientific journal.

The study confirms the fears that omicron could deal the world a bigger blow than the delta strain. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has cautioned that it could fuel surges with “severe consequences”.

However, a section of people still feel that the variant may only lead to only mild illness given a jump in cases in South Africa, where the variant was first detected, has not yet overwhelmed hospitals.

The global health body recently said that early data indicates that Omicron may easily infect people who have either been infected earlier or vaccinated, but severity will be milder than what the Delta variant did or does.

Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE have also said that a booster dose of their vaccine could fortify protection against the strain.

The health community is trying to study the new variant, which is the most differentiated strain yet among the five variants of concern identified by the WHO since the pandemic began early last year.

Cases in South Africa have rapidly increased to about 20,000 a day since the first infection related to Omicron was detected there two weeks ago. The number of Covid cases in the nation had remained low in the preceding weeks, despite only 26 per cent of the population being fully vaccinated, according to Bloomberg’s Vaccine Tracker.

(With agency inputs)

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