The omicron variant is likely to have picked up genetic material from another virus that causes the common cold in humans, according to a new preliminary study, prompting one of its authors to suggest omicron could have greater transmissibility but lower virulence than other variants of the novel coronavirus.
Researchers from Nference, a Cambridge, Mass.-based firm that analyzes biomedical information, sequenced omicron and found a snippet of genetic code that is also present in a virus that can bring about a cold. They say this particular mutation could have occurred in a host simultaneously infected by SARS-CoV-2, also known as the novel coronavirus, and the HCoV-229E coronavirus, which can cause the common cold. The shared genetic code with HCoV-229E has not been detected in other novel coronavirus variants, the scientists said.
The study is in preprint and has not been peer-reviewed.
The “striking” similarity between omicron and HCoV-229E could have made the former “more accustomed to human hosts” and likely to evade some immune system responses, said Venky Soundararajan, a biological engineer who co-wrote the study.... Read More: Washington Post