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The Covid-19 Omicron variant, the vaccination Paradox and a moving target

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Mohamed Mutocheluh, PhD

Molecular Virologist and Associate Professor

Department of Clinical Microbiology

School of Medicine and Dentistry

KNUST main campus

Kumasi

 

Since China reported its first case of Covid-19 to the World Health Organization (WHO) in December 2019, international health experts have documented 251.4 million Covid-19 cases and 5.1 million deaths.

As a result, the sickness has spread to every landmass, and the number of cases continues to rise. Pandemics in different countries have taken different paths. The disease has been particularly severe in the United States. In total, 46.8 million instances have been recorded in the country, with 759,060 individuals passing away.

Despite the fact that the director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, has estimated the infection's death rate to be around 2%, while the WHO has estimated it to be 3.4 percent, the true number of people killed by Covid-19 is still not satisfactory, given that significantly more people may have died from the infection but were rarely reported.

 

The fourth wave of Covid-19 infections

New infection in Europe moved toward record highs as the WHO cautioned that the mainland was "back at the focal point of the pandemic." The WHO estimate that Europe could experience half a million Covid-19 deaths in the following three months. Guardian Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte reported a three-week incomplete lockdown in the midst of flooding COVID-19 cases in the Netherlands, saying his administration needs to "convey a hard disaster for the infection".

The lockdown that begun 20/11/21 is the first to start in Western Europe since a new wave of infections began surging across parts of the continent. On Thursday 18/11/21 the country’s public health institute recorded 16,364 new positive tests in 24 hours – in a country where nearly 85% of adults are fully vaccinated.

Daily infections in German hit a new record of 52,826 on Wednesday 17/11/21 as European governments responded to a surge in much of the continent and this is in a country with a vaccination rate of approximately 70%. Data from the UK suggest a vaccination rate of 80.1% of people received the second dose and 23.5% got the third or booster dose.

However new infections 35, 798 (15.1%) were recorded as of 17/11/21. Whereas in Canada approximately 80% received at least one dose, 78% full dose and 2% received an additional dose and there is still a reported surge in new cases reaching over 2000 as of 13/11/21.

As most countries in the northern hemisphere battled the fourth wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, countries in the southern hemisphere were preparing to for the ‘battle’ when a bomb shell containing the so-called Omicron variant of Covid-19 exploded.

 

Omicron

All living things produce their kind and for infections, this interaction is known as 'replication'. It might bring about the presentation of transformations (changes) all through the viral genome (the structure blocks/blocks that make up an infection). At the point when explicit transformations, or sets of changes, are chosen through various rounds of viral replication, another variation can arise.

In the event that the succession variety creates an infection with particularly unique phenotypic qualities, the variation is co-termed a strain.

Through a course of transformative choice, another variation becomes prevalent. Like 'natural selection' this new variation may have some endurance benefits, for example, being all the more promptly contagious, more harmful or pathogenic; and can avoid insusceptibility instigated by immunization or earlier disease.

This Omicron variation of Covid might have arisen out of the Delta variation which has been a predominant lead variation of the Covid-19 answerable for the pandemic since it arose out of India in late 2020 and was named Delta in May 2021.

The Omicron variation of the Covid came as a shock to the world when the WHO on 26/11/21 depicted the Omicron as a variation of concern as the world might be in a race against time.

Omicron was first recognized by researchers in South Africa, who raised caution over its uncommonly large number of changes on Thursday 25/11/21. From that point forward, numerous nations have affirmed instances of the new strain. Aside from South Africa, the variation has been found in Botswana, Belgium, Canada, Australia, the Netherlands, Denmark, United Kingdom, Germany, Israel, Italy, the Czech Republic and Hong Kong.

The world reacted by unreasonably focusing on the Southern African area with Omicron travel boycotts as opposed to praising and offering backing to them for being straightforward with the fresh insight about the new Covid-19 variation. South Africa specifically has one of the most outstanding atomic genomic sequencing centres in Africa as had the option to follow and distinguish Omicron.

Omicron was subsequently traced to travellers from neighbouring Botswana. Although the genuine beginning of Omicron stays subtle one could figure the infection might have been coursing around there for quite a long time before its disclosure. Afterall it is even conceivable the Omicron did not begin in Africa, however, was just first detailed by African Scientists.

Omicron is a vigorously transformed variation (see Table 1) and known to be more contagious than the Delta variation yet we actually could not say whether it is more destructive (risky) than the Delta variation. In virology, high transformation does not generally convert into high harmfulness; truth be told, it in some cases converts into less destructiveness. Likewise, it is as yet not satisfactory in the event that Omicron is impervious to the Covid-19 immunizations presently being managed worldwide.

In October 2020, the UK revealed the B.1.1.7 or Alpha variation which immediately turned into a prevalent variation around the world. The B.1.1.7. contains 8 changes in the spike protein and keeps up with the D614G transformation i.e., the change of the variation that passed on Wuhan to Europe and the remainder of the world.

The Delta variation thought to be 60% – 80% more infectious than the Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Kappa variations. Omicron which is thought to have risen up out of the Delta variation rules them all.

Table 1 shows shared changes of six variations of concern (Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Kappa, Delta and Omicron). Momentarily, the principal line shows the L18F transformation of amino corrosive 18 in the spike protein from Leucine to Phenylamine is shared by Beta and Gamma variations as it were.

Table 1

Table 1

Table 1 b
Table 1 is sourced from Co Variants Website which belongs to the Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine, University of Bern, Switzerland & Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics, Switzerland.

 

The thirteenth column shows the K417T transformation of amino corrosive 417 in the spike protein from lysine to asparagine is shared by Beta, Gamma and Omicron. The nineteenth column shows the D614G transformation of 614 in the spike protein from aspartic corrosive to glycine is shared by all variations; this is the change of the variation that left Wuhan. The last columns show something like seventeen changes restricted to Omicron simply contrasted with the other five Covid variations of concern.

The spike protein is typically habitually transformed on account of immunological tension from antibodies and other safe cells that make a solid effort to clear the infection. In addition, RNA infections including Corona, HIV, Polio, Ebola, Influenza effectively and ordinarily make hereditary blunders during replication and that intrinsically brings about changes and development of variations. The creator predicts Omicron will before long transform to one more variation in accordance with the transformative direction of RNA infections.

 

Conclusion

Ironically, although the rich nations are intensely immunized past the crowd resistance edge of >80% they appear to be the hardest hit by the fourth flood of the Covid-19 pandemic and least inoculated sub-Saharan Africa is minimal hit by the pandemic. A report of the Omicron variation from South Africa set off an unreasonable travel restriction from the rich nations. However, they should realize that the alleged immunization politically-sanctioned racial segregation forced on Africa won't end the pandemic.

Taking everything into account it is past the point where it is possible to close lines. States ought to rather zero in on immunizing every one of their residents and reinforce the current Covid-19 anticipation conventions including wearing of nose veils, regular hand washing, try not to swarm and so forth the rich nations should help those from the less fortunate nations to get completely immunized including directing promoter shots for the people who are immunocompromised.