Hong Kong University researchers revealed that the COVID-19 variant Omicron multiplies itself 70 times more quickly in airway passage tissue but replicates ten times more slowly in lung tissues compared to the original strain.
Hong Kong University study leader Dr. Michael Chan Chi-wai however said that “the severity of disease in humans is not determined only by virus replication”, but also by an individual’s immune response to the infection, which could evolve into life-threatening inflammation.
“By infecting many more people, a very infectious virus may cause more severe disease and death even though the virus itself may be less pathogenic. Therefore, taken together with our recent studies showing that the Omicron variant can partially escape immunity from vaccines and past infection, the overall threat from Omicron variant is likely to be very significant,” Chan added.
Dr. Joseph Lubin of Rutgers University in New Jersey said the findings under peer review still need to be verified.
“While our molecular structure predictions are by no means a final word on Omicron, (we hope) they enable a faster and more effective response from the global community,” Dr. Lubin added.
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