New Omicron variant – this is how the disease progresses

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Because of its 14 mutations at immune-important sites, researchers believe that mutation BJ.1 is, even more immune evasive.

Currently, two vaccines are specifically adapted to the omicron variant of coronavirus. One is based on the BA.1 variant, and the other is based on BA.4 and BA.5. However, a new sub-variant has recently emerged again, as published on Twitter by molecular biologist Ulrich Elling. “Another worrying subline is spreading in India and has also arrived in the USA and Europe (Austria): BJ.1,” he wrote.

Like every previous variant, BJ.1 also has mutations in the surface protein (spike protein) – 14 in number. These, however, are in delicate places. Namely, where antibodies – the body’s immune system – usually dock. “This may give the virus a spreading advantage,” explains virologist Monika Redlberger-Fritz in an interview with “Heute.”

That the virus mutates is nothing special but is in its nature. “It constantly mutates to be able to spread in the best possible way,” the virologist explains. Currently, there are 361 subtypes of Omikron alone. But a new variant needs a selection advantage to displace the other variants for it to become a dominant one. This happens through mutations. She says that the newly available omicron subvariant BJ.1 would have that advantage.

“This mutation package makes further significant immune evasion (immune escape; note) very likely,” Elling also writes, referring to the likelihood that this corona variant can evade the immune system even more than previous variants.

However, it is not yet possible to say how these mutations will affect the infection process and disease course. There are still too few BJ.1 cases. In Austria, there is currently a handful. However, these are being closely monitored. What is certain, however, is that vaccination continues to be irreplaceable to protect oneself from a severe course, if necessary – with whatever variant. “Anyone basic immunized with three vaccinations is protected against severe courses,” Redlberger-Fritz reiterates. The National Vaccination Committee now recommends the 4th prick for everyone 12 years and older.

  • source: heute.at/picture: pixabay.com

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