Thursday, March 10, 2022

The Omnicron and Delta Speedway in Three Charts

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Health, Medicine, Nature of Science, History of Science

Ed Hessler

For the journal Nature, Smriti Mallapaty has written an essay on how Omnicron overtook Delta in three charts. The paper on which it is based has not been peer reviewed but is available in a medRxiv preprint.

 The original paper is based on a careful analysis of data from the UK Health Security Agency. It shows how the Omnicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 spreads so quickly compared with the Delta variant. People carrying the Omnicron virus are more likely to spread it indoors and outdoors. In addition the variant is much better at infecting the vaccinated and unvaccinated.

The charts compare variants, the vaccine effect, blocking transmission.

 Mallapaty closes with comments by a leading virologist. "Although this study suggests that existing SARS-CoV-2 vaccines offer limited protection against infection with Omicron, other research has shown that they are effective at preventing severe disease caused by both variants, says Leo Poon, a virologist at the University of Hong Kong. But he points out that the work was done at a time when the BA.1 subvariant of Omicron was circulating, and that now that another subvariant, BA.2, is rapidly gaining steam, this variant will need to be investigated, too. Nevertheless, vaccination is still one of the most effective measures to “'protect ourselves'” against severe disease, hospitalization and death."

There is a link to the preprint which may be read in full.

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