Science

Omicron: First image of new variant released, scientists use electron microscope – Republic World


In a major discovery, scientists have unveiled the first microscopic image of the Omicron variant of the novel coronavirus that has triggered fears of another COVID-19 wave in the world. While the World Health Organisation (WHO) designated B.1.1.529 or Omicron, as a ‘variant of concern’, the University of Hong Kong on Wednesday released the image obtained by using an electron microscope. 

The team of medical scientists including pathologists and virologists were able to take an electron micrograph of a monkey kidney cell (Vero E6) after it was infected with the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2. Both high and low-resolution Omicron images were released. 

At low magnification, the image shows that the damage was done to cells with swollen vesicles containing small black viral particles, the researchers explained. Additionally, the high magnification revealed aggregates of the viral particles with corona-shaped spikes on the surface. 

Sputnik has stated that the researchers at the Department of Microbiology at the University of Hong Kong managed to isolate Omicron from clinical samples, which will allow the development and production of vaccines against the new strain which has more mutations than any other known variant. 

Omicron picture

(Image credits: med.hku.hk)

Omicron COVID-19 variant

While more than 40 nations have already detected the Omicron variant, the scientists had previously cautioned that it would take weeks before more information regarding the mutations would be derived. As of now, WHO has called the Omicron variant “highly-mutated”. 

It is pertinent to note that South Africa first alerted the United Nations (UN) health agency regarding the new variant on 24 November and it was designated as ‘variant of concern’ of 26 November. It is known to have over 30 changes to its spike protein sparking fears of medication and vaccine efficacy against the disease caused by B.1.1.529. Citing preliminary findings, WHO had denied any “lethal” behaviour of the mutated virus but added the new Omicron variant is five to six times infectious than earlier variants, especially the Delta variant.

Meanwhile, the B.1.1.529 variant of Coronavirus named Omicron, appears to be reinfecting people three times the rate of previously detected strains, said experts in South Africa. While the scientists and health officials across the globe continue to closely monitor the Omicron variant and its impacts, South Africa by its National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) stated its latest epidemiological evidence indicated the new variant can evade immunity from infection with earlier variants.

(IMAGE: AP/Unsplash)

 





READ SOURCE

Leave a Reply

This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies.