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Travel bans and other emergency measures enacted by governments in response to omicron, the new Covid-19 version, are buying scientists time to answer critical issues that could prevent another wave of deaths.

In Europe, the United States, and Africa, laboratories are preparing tests to evaluate; how the new strain will behave in people who have been vaccinated or infected previously. The real-world study will be crucial as health officials in South Africa closely monitor the outbreak to see how much more transmissible the new variation will become as it spreads, as well as whether it will be more hazardous or lethal.

The Mutation

According to scientists and policymakers, answering the questions will take weeks. The quest for answers begins with the variant’s spectacular pattern of 50 mutations. More than 30 of which are on the virus’s spike protein; which is Covid-19’s weapon of choice for invading victims’ cells.

According to Wendy Barclay, head of Imperial College London’s department of infectious disease; “what’s evident so far is that a constellation of mutations has come together that may help omicron spread faster.”

“On paper, it’s extremely biologically possible that this virus has increased transmissibility,” Barclay said in a Friday press conference. Researchers must put what they’ve learned over a year of intensive research into practice, she said. “You start there, and when you look at epidemiology and laboratory-based studies; to try to back up that kind of approach.”

Threat Posed By Constant Evolution

However, the WHO stated on Friday that Omicron may have a growing advantage over the others; because it has been discovered at higher rates than earlier spikes. According to the WHO, it could also pose a higher risk of reinfection than other types of concern.

According to Sharon Peacock, a professor of public health and microbiology at the University of Cambridge and the director of the Covid-19 Genomics U.K. consortium, there are hints in omicron’s spread in South Africa that it may be more transmissible. “When the Ministry of Health noticed that the numbers we’re multiplying every day, they wondered, ‘Where are these cases coming from?’”

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