On December 14, the Russian news agency INTERFAX.RU published that the Omicron strain of Covid-19 is spreading much faster than other earlier strains that scientists have identified during the pandemic. This statement is true.
The first mention of a new coronavirus infection occurred at the end of December 2019. Dr. Li Wenliang, who works in the emergency department at the Wuhan Central Hospital, was the first to drew attention to the new disease. On December 30, in a WeChat group chat, he shared with colleagues his worst fears – Li Wenliang assumed the beginning of a new wave of SARS. However, the first official publication in the media about Covid-19 dates back to January 5, 2020. According to the website of the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, between January 5, 2020 and February 5, 2020, Covid-19 infection was found in 20 countries. As is shown in the table below.
Next up: the Delta variant
In December 2020, Indian scientist found a new strain of Covid-19 named Delta. It revealed two mutations of the spike protein – the part of the virus with which it is introduced into the cells of the human body. Scientists have found that this facilitates the penetration of the SARS-CoV-2 virus into the body and thus contributes to infection. There is also a risk of infection with the delta variant of both people who have already had a coronavirus infection and those who have been vaccinated. During the summer of 2021, this virus spread rapidly and by the July 4, it was found at more than 104 countries.
After the Delta strain, “Delta Plus” appeared. The peculiarity of Delta plus is that it affects many cells at once, a person infected with this strain will transmit the infection to a large number of people at once, while infection occurs much faster than with earlier strains of coronavirus.
In early November 2021, the media started talking about a new strain of Covid-19, which was named Omicron and was first found in South Africa. On December 14 2021, at a WHO briefing, the Director of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said that 77 countries had reported cases of Omicron detection. However, in reality, Omicron probably exists in most countries, even if it has not yet been discovered.
According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, the variant of Covid-19 Omicron has been confirmed in 25 countries of the European Union, as well as in 50 countries outside the EU.
The facts listed above indicate that the information is correct, since the data from the WHO Director’s statement and the data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control have insignificant differences (75 and 77). In addition, Omicron does spread faster than past Covid-19 strains. In less than a month, it was found in 77 countries, while the classic version of Covid-19 was detected only in 20. The Delta strain, in turn, shows an approximate result in 13 countries per month (considering that in 8 months since its appearance it was detected in 104 countries).
Thus, the most “tough” strain of the coronavirus has the slowest spread rate, while the most “light” strain has the highest spread rate. But only scientists can comment on why this is so.
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RESEARCH | ARTICLE © Elena Kaveshnikova, Alina Gabdrakhmanova, Irina Rzhendinskaya, Maria Serchuk, Bizualm Desta, Vlada Nedotko, Viola Nabokova, Evgeniy Zagoskin, South Ural State University