Omicron’s discovery was announced by Tulio de Oliveira, the head of Krisp, at a state-run press conference on November 25.
Scientists including Lessells, a close colleague of De Oliveira, are conducting tests to get a better grasp of Omicron’s risks, and how significant they are will only be known in the coming weeks.
The other possibility is that like Omicron, “something comes out of the blue that hasn’t descended from either of these variants but has different properties and these are all the things we have to look out for,” he said.
In SA, where 70% or more of the 60-million people are estimated to have been exposed to Covid-19 during the past 18 months and about 26% are fully vaccinated, Omicron’s symptoms have been milder than earlier strains. That may not be the case in countries where the coronavirus has been less rampant.
This virus “wants to survive, nothing else”, Lessells said.
“It’s evolving to continue surviving in the context of populations with high levels of immunity. It’s virus evolution in action.”
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