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Omicron Replicates 70 Times Faster Than Delta in Airways, But Lung Infection Appears Less Severe, Study Says – NBC New York

  • A workforce of researchers at Hong Kong University’s school of drugs discovered omicron replicates 70 occasions quicker in human airways, however an infection in the lungs seems much less extreme.
  • The examine is underneath peer assessment.
  • Chan famous {that a} extremely contagious virus like omicron could trigger extra extreme illness and loss of life just by spreading a lot quicker, though the lung an infection seems not as unhealthy.

The omicron variant of Covid-19 replicates 70 occasions quicker in human airways than delta, however an infection in the lungs seems to be much less extreme in comparison with the unique virus pressure, based on a examine printed this week by researchers on the University of Hong Kong’s Faculty of Medicine.

Dr. Michael Chan Chi-wai and a workforce of researchers discovered that the variant replicates a lot quicker in the bronchus, which connects the windpipe to the lungs, 24 hours after an infection. Yet it reproduces greater than 10 occasions slower in the precise human lung tissue, they mentioned.

The study is under peer review. Researchers have been publishing their findings earlier than peer assessment is accomplished because of the pressing nature of the pandemic.


Omicron’s speedy replication in the airway could clarify why it transmits quicker than earlier variants of the virus, however decrease an infection in the lungs could point out that it causes much less extreme illness, based on the examine’s findings.

“It is vital to notice that the severity of illness in people shouldn’t be decided solely by virus replication but in addition by the host immune response to the an infection,” Chan mentioned in an announcement.

Chan famous {that a} extremely contagious virus like omicron could trigger extra extreme illness and loss of life just by spreading a lot quicker, though the lung an infection seems not as unhealthy.

“Therefore, taken along with our latest research displaying that the omicron variant can partially escape immunity from vaccines and previous an infection, the general risk from Omicron variant is prone to be very important,” Chan cautioned.


White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci, citing information from South Africa, mentioned Wednesday that omicron reduces the safety of Pfizer and BioNTech’s two-dose vaccine in opposition to an infection to 33%, in comparison with 80% safety earlier than the variant emerged.

However, the two-dose vaccine remains to be 70% efficient at stopping hospitalization, Fauci mentioned. Pfizer’s booster dose supplies 75% safety in opposition to symptomatic illness, he mentioned, citing information from the U.Okay. Health Security Agency.

Pfizer and BioNTech have additionally printed preliminary information from their very own lab examine displaying boosters are efficient in opposition to omicron, however the preliminary two-dose sequence is considerably hit by omicron.

The World Health Organization on Tuesday mentioned omicron spreading quicker than any earlier Covid variant. Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’S Covid-19 technical lead, cautioned in opposition to treating omicron as a light pressure.


“We know that folks contaminated with omicron can have the complete spectrum of illness, from asymptomatic an infection to gentle illness, all the way in which to extreme illness to loss of life,” Van Kerkhove instructed the general public throughout a query and reply session.

She warned that elevated transmission will result in extra hospitalizations, burdening already strapped health-care programs.

“If a system is overburdened, then folks will die,” Van Kerkhove mentioned. “We need to be actually cautious that there is not a story on the market that it is only a gentle illness.”

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