The omicron coronavirus strain spreads to the lungs less frequently than other variants of COVID-19. The infection mainly affects the upper respiratory tract. This is stated in the results of a study by Japanese and American scientists, The New York Times reports.
A preprint of a study by scientists from the University of Washington, the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Tokyo is published in the journal Research Square. Experts have found out that omicron can cause a less severe course of the disease by conducting experiments on mice and hamsters. Animals infected with the new strain experienced mild symptoms of the disease. Other variants of COVID-19 were accompanied by the appearance of scars in their lungs and difficulty breathing.
Earlier, researchers at the Cambridge Institute of Therapeutic Immunology and Infectious Diseases came to the conclusion that the omicron coronavirus strain multiplies in the lungs more slowly than other known variants of the virus, which means it does not cause the same severe course of COVID-19.
As it turned out, omicron replicates in organoids and cell lines of Calu-3 lungs less efficiently than the delta strain and the D614G mutation found in China.
Despite these data, omicron is a "serious problem for the public health system" because of the speed of its spread, said the head of the study, Professor Ravi Gupta.
Scientists at the Medical Faculty of the University of Hong Kong have previously stated that omicron spreads 70 times faster than delta. At the same time, it spreads 10 times slower in human lungs than the coronavirus variant that started the pandemic, the researchers found. In their opinion, this may also indicate a lighter course of the disease when infected with a new strain.
A new variant of the coronavirus was discovered in southern Africa in early November. According to the World Health Organization, it is spreading rapidly in countries with a high level of population immunity, and the number of new cases of the strain doubles within one and a half to three days.
Sources: New York Times
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