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Omicron is less severe, claim experts; point to its slow replication in lung

Omicron is less severe, claim experts; point to its slow replication in lung

The Omicron variant of the coronavirus has been leading to a surge in hospitalisations across the world. It is also affecting the younger population, especially children, due to which health experts are strongly recommending taking a vaccine shot. But the heavily-mutated strain – some studies claim Omicron has more than 50 mutations – is not causing severe illnesses. More than a dozen studies have been conducted in Omicron since its emergence in South Africa on November 24, and at least half a dozen say it causes milder disease than previous versions of the coronavirus. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, almost 199,000 children were reported infected with Covid-19 in the week ending December 23, the last week for which data is currently available, and a 50 per cent rise on figures earlier in the month. But the rates of severe illness remain much lower in absolute terms compared to older age groups. There have been 803 deaths of people aged 0-18 from Covid in the US, out of more than 820,000, since the pandemic began. Early research out of Hong Kong based on lab testing of tissue samples has shown Omicron replicates up to 70 times faster in the bronchi, the airways leading into the lungs, compared to Delta, which may help explain its extreme spread throughout the population. Its relative mildness could be explained by the same Hong Kong study that showed Omicron replicated 10 times slower in the lungs compared to Delta, and a hamster study from the University of Tokyo has borne this out. In Britain, another badly affected country after the United States, the government has said it believes the new variant is milder than the Delta variant. The number of patients needing mechanical ventilation beds has also remained steady through December, unlike previous peaks in the pandemic. The analysis was published by the UK Health Security Agency, after it worked alongside Cambridge University MRC Biostatistics unit to analyse 528,176 Omicron cases and 573,012 Delta cases. It also found that vaccines can work well against Omicron..

world-news 2022-01-05 hindustantimes