MoA: On Omicron
Posted by Tomski on November 27, 2021, 11:28 pm
The New Virus Variant Has Lots Of Mutations - That Does Not (Yet) Mean It's 'Very Bad'
Yesterday the chief of the World Health Organzation warned about a 'false sense of security' around Covid-19 vaccines:
In a news briefing in Geneva on Wednesday, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said many vaccinated people were wrongly thinking receiving the COVID shot meant they no longer needed to take any other precautions.
“In many countries and communities, we are concerned about a false sense of security that vaccines have ended the pandemic, and that people who are vaccinated do not need to take any other precautions,” Tedros told reporters.
“We cannot say this clearly enough: even if you are vaccinated, continue to take precautions to prevent becoming infected yourself, and infecting someone else who could die.”
“That means wearing a mask, maintaining distance, avoiding crowds and meeting others outside if you can, or in a well-ventilated space inside.
The warning was a shot against the Biden administration which has done away with all non-pharmaceutical intervention (NPI) measures. These will be again needed if the news from South Africa of a new variance of concern turns out to be as bad as it sounds:
Health Minister Joe Phaahla said the variant was linked to an “exponential rise” of cases in the last few days, although experts are still trying to determine if the new variant, named B.1.1.529, is actually responsible.
From just over 200 new confirmed cases per day in recent weeks, South Africa saw the number of new daily cases rocket to 2,465 on Thursday.
Struggling to explain the sudden rise in cases, scientists studied virus samples from the outbreak and discovered the new variant.
It appears to have a high number of mutations — about 30 — in the coronavirus’ spike protein, which could affect how easily it spreads to people.
Sharon Peacock, who has led genetic sequencing of COVID-19 in Britain at the University of Cambridge, said the data so far suggest the new variant has mutations “consistent with enhanced transmissibility,” but said that “the significance of many of the mutations is still not known.”
A presentation by the Health Ministry of South Africa can be viewed here. The slide show at 5:10 forward is the interesting part.
This (blue) variant seems to out-compete others very fast.
Yves Smith has a good but scary thread about the potential dangers this new variant may bring. The details she presents look pretty dire.
Dr. Angela Rasmussen @angie_rasmussen - 14:17 UTC · Nov 25, 2021
Friendly reminder that new variants are just that: new. We can’t know if they will be bad or just meh based on sequence alone, nor guess at their provenance. Lots of mutations ≠ very bad.
The variants name is B.1.1.529 and the WHO has given it the Greek alphabet letter 'Omicron' i.e. O.
The virus type was only found last week and then only in a cluster of younger people in South Africa. But it may well have come from elsewhere.
There are several mutations visible within this new variant strain which likely means that it must have evolved some months ago:
Prof Francois Balloux @BallouxFrancois - 10:36 UTC · Nov 26, 2021
For that genetic diversity to have accumulated, B.1.1.529 must have been in circulation for at least 2-3 months (i.e. SARS-CoV-2 lineages 'click' at ~2 mutations/month).
In recent days more cases with this variant were already found in Malawi, Belgium, Israel and Hong Kong. There are likely many more all around the world. The horse has clearly left the barn and the travel stops, which were today again implemented, will only slow down the spread.
We already know that some of the monoclonal antibody therapeutics that can be used against previous variants will not work against this one as some specifically targeted gene regions have changed in it. There is also the possibility that the protection that current vaccines give us will not work as well against the new variant as they do against previous ones.
It means that we will again need non-pharmaceutical interventions to slow the spread. As Yves writes:
By letting business drive public health policy with its quest for a “return to normal,” the entire last year was squandered, not just NPIs, but testing, contact tracing, international infection control standards, everything. We said this amounted operational to “Let ‘er rip.” B.1.1.529 may show us the true cost of that recklessness. And where did the recent rounds of bad variants come from? This is three times – Kent, India, now South Africa – where the Anglo incubation reservoirs that capitalism creates have spilled over into waves of world-wide infection. China would be fully justified in never “opening up,” with obvious consequences for a “return to normal” in the supply chain.
Consider GM’s cheery advice (emphasis his):
Consider yourself fully unvaccinated from now on and go back to March 2020 precautions.
There are many open question about the new variant of concern:
How fast does this variant really spread?
Is it more infectious?
Does it cause a more severe illness?
Is it more deadly?
How well do the vaccines hold up against it?
From the current data none of those questions can yet be answered. It will take two to four weeks to find out.
Kai Kupferschmidt @kakape - 13:58 UTC · Nov 26, 2021
So as usual: Beware of anyone who is overly confident on anything about this variant right now. There is a lot we need to find out.
If you have not be vaccinated yet please get a shot as soon as possible. You may want to (re-)read the last Moon of Alabama thread on that:
Why You Should Get Vaccinated But Do Not Need A Third Shot
Until we do have more information about this new variant we should probably all follow GM's advice at least as much as we can.
I will police the comments in this thread. Any hyping of unproven medications and other not science based speculations will be removed and might get you banned.
Posted by b on November 26, 2021 at 18:43 UTC