The surprisingly high number of mutations in the new coronavirus variant omicron may indicate that this variant has developed in patients with HIV or other immune system disorders.
This was stated by the leading German immunologist Carsten Watzl, who was quoted by the DPA agency on Monday.
Watzl, Secretary General of the German Immunological Society (DGfI), refers in this statement to similar findings that scientists have made in other cases. The virus can be duplicated repeatedly in the body of a person with weakened immunity.
“During this process, isolated mutations may occur repeatedly, which may not give the virus any benefit, but may multiply repeatedly due to the failure of the immune system,” Watzl said. Thus, according to Watzl, reduplication of the virus can eventually lead to further mutations which, if combined, will give the virus an advantage.
Many HIV patients in Africa do not receive adequate treatment and therefore have a severely weakened immune system, Watzl said. In order to prevent the spread of variants with as many mutations as omicron, it is necessary to identify immunocompromised people infected with coronavirus and isolate them until they cease to be infectious.
“If the virus also mutates significantly in a person, it is really dangerous to pass on the mutated virus,” Watzl said.
Compared to the original coronavirus variant, which first appeared in the Chinese city of Wuchan, the omicron variant has an unusual number of mutations on the spike protein alone (the so-called “spike protein”) alone. There are more than 30 of them. Some of these mutations are associated with larger the transmissibility of the virus and the ability to bypass part of the human immune system. However, according to Watzl, it is not yet possible to determine what effect this particular combination of mutations will have on the virus.
Source: Pravda – Veda a technika by vat.pravda.sk.
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