A number of recently published studies showed that the fast-moving Omicron variant may be less severe than other Covid-19 strains due to the way it attacks the lungs, media reports said.
According to New York Times, studies in mice and hamsters showed that Omicron produced less harmful infections in the lungs and was instead restricted to the nose, throat and trachea. Previous variants caused scarring of the lungs and severe breathing difficulties, quotes NYT, The Times of Israel reported.
“It is fair to say that the idea of a disease that manifests primarily in the upper respiratory tract is emerging,” said Roland Eils, a computational biologist at the Berlin Institute of Health, who has studied how coronavirus infects the respiratory tract.
One of the studies showed that Omicron levels in the lungs were one-tenth or less of the level of other variants, the report said. Several experiments published in recent days all pointed out that Omicron is milder than Delta and other earlier variants of the virus, according to real-world data, it says.
The studies were published online in preprint form, meaning they have not yet been peer-reviewed or published in scientific journals.
Omicron was first identified in South Africa and Botswana in late November. It quickly became the dominant tribe in South Africa, causing an explosion of infections with a peak of about 26,000 daily cases recorded in mid-December, according to official statistics.
The variant is currently present in more than 100 countries, according to the World Health Organization, and affects vaccinated people as well as those who have already had coronavirus.
Many studies suggest that Omicron, now the dominant strain in some countries, has a reduced risk of hospitalization, but the WHO still called for caution. India’s Omicron figure on Saturday has reportedly reached 1,431.
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