Fears are growing around the world about the new Corona mutant, “Omicron”, especially after the World Health Organization classified it as a worrisome mutant, stressing that preliminary evidence indicates that it “increases the risk of re-infection with the virus.”

In a report published by Al Jazeera English, writer Mohamed Haddad says that the new strain, which was announced in South Africa on November 24, is characterized by more mutations than other mutated strains, and may be more spreading infection, which made several countries impose restrictions on Travel to fit position.

What mutations?

The SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus has continued to mutate since it first appeared in late 2019. The virus undergoes multiple mutations, and a mutation is a change in the genetic code of the virus that leads to the emergence of a mutated strain.

Some strains of coronavirus spread more easily than others, which can lead to increased infection rates, higher hospital admissions, and pressure on health care facilities.

Experts believe that the new Omicron strain has at least 50 mutations in the mutated strain, with 32 mutations on the fulvelas (spike protein), the part responsible for the infection picked up by human cells.

The scientists confirmed that similar mutations observed in other mutated strains have a greater ability to penetrate the body's immune defenses, compared to the original strain of the virus.

Mutations are identified by letters and numbers such as D614G - which means the amino acid is changed from D (aspartate) to G (glycine) at position 614 of viral spike proteins.

How are mutated strains named?

The World Health Organization has identified 5 mutations of concern and 8 of interest.

Since May 2021, the mutant has been named with the letters of the Greek alphabet, starting with alpha.

The following characters were supposed to be "Nu" and then "Xi", but according to the World Health Organization "[Nu] is very easy to confuse with (new), and (Xi) is not used because it is a common noun".

Instead, the 15th letter "omicron" was used to name the new mutant.

Comparison of Omicron and other mutated strains

The World Health Organization says the global risk posed by the mutated Omicron strain is very high.

Currently, the delta variant, which was first detected in India in October 2020, is the most common strain.

The World Health Organization has confirmed that it is not yet clear whether "Omicron" is more contagious or causes more severe disease cases compared to other mutated strains, adding that "vaccines remain effective in reducing severe illness and death."

Preliminary data indicate - according to the World Organization - that "Omicron increases the risk of re-infection with the virus more than other strains of concern, but information is still limited in this regard."

For his part, the South African epidemiologist Salem Abdel Karim said that insufficient data has been monitored to determine the clinical effects of Omicron compared to the previous mutated strains, and that the possibility of infection again is possible, but people who received the vaccine are less likely to develop serious symptoms.

How do you protect yourself and others?

The World Health Organization recommends taking the following steps to protect yourself and prevent the spread of COVID-19.

1. Get vaccinated.

2. Wear a mask.

3. Maintain physical distancing.

4. Ventilate the interior spaces.

5. Follow prevention and hygiene procedures.

6. Respect the rules of quarantine when symptoms appear.

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