January 26, 2022

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– Goes in the direction of colds – VG

Expert: Anne Spurkland is an immunologist and follows developments in South Africa closely.

A new study from Hong Kong indicates that Omicron binds to the nose and throat and does not go down into the lungs as much. That’s good news, says a vaccine expert.

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– The study indicates that the omicron is transmitted very easily but may give less serious disease because it remains higher in the respiratory tract such as the nose and throat, immunologist and Professor Ann Spurkland at the University of Oslo explains to VG.

I’ve read press releases The study came on Wednesday from a research group at the University of Hong Kong. What they did was grow cells from human airways in cell cultures in a lab and see how the cells interact with different viral variants such as Wuhan, Delta and Omicron.

Then they concluded that Omicron works best in cells of the upper respiratory tract. The more virus is copied there so that there are greater amounts of virus.

Sporkland believes that because Omicron likes to breed in the nose and throat, it can be infected more easily than if it quickly descends into the lungs.

Omicron appears to be more like in the upper respiratory tract than in the lower lungs. It’s good news.

More positive signs

Specifically, the study shows that the omicron transcribes 70 times faster than delta and other variants in tissue samples from the trachea, and infection here is not the same as pneumonia.

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Similarly, omicron transcribes 10 times slower in lung cells than the original Wuhan virus.

– This may indicate that Omicron penetrates to a lesser extent in the lungs where there is a stage of pneumonia. That’s good news, Sporkland says, and may match the impression from other South African signals.

Researchers from the Hong Kong study commented that high infection can cause many patients, even if its severity is lower.

Study from the largest private health fund in South Africa, Discovery, supports the hypothesis that omicrons are more contagious and cause less serious disease. They write that the risk of hospitalization is reduced by 29 percent and 80 percent applies to deaths.

Regarding the effect of the vaccine, British figures show that it also has an effect against the omicron variant. The effect was less than the effect against delta, something expected. But a booster dose provides 76 percent protection against Omicron’s disease.

These are positive signs that vaccines also protect against oomicron infection. He said that giving a booster dose of 76 percent against symptomatic diseases is very optimistic Vaccine Director Geir Buchholm at FHI to VG about the British study.

The delta variant is also less keen on infecting lung cells. If the omicron is less interested in descending into the lungs and liking it better in the nose and throat, there may be less pneumonia than coronavirus:

So Omicron is very similar to other coronaviruses that we know of. Rarely, colds get into the lungs, says Sporkland.

Does Omikron look like the common cold?

– Goes in the direction of colds.

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Angelique Coetzee, president of the South African Medical Association, said: Tuesday to Sky News She did not see pneumonia among the patients she treated, with the exception of one HIV patient with several underlying diseases. Coetzee also believes that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is overreacting to the omicron virus.

You should give it a few weeks

Sporkland asserts that these tests were performed in the laboratory, and thus were performed “outside the body.”

– So it remains to be seen how this will be. We need another week or two to see what happens to the unvaccinated people in Norway with Omicron. But these are small studies that make you more refreshed.

– What does that mean for Norway?

– It will be difficult to stop, I think sooner or later we will all be exposed to the omicron. So I can’t see that you can turn it off completely. But there will be far fewer people who get pneumonia and end up seriously ill.

The Big Question: Omicron in the Unvaccinated

If omikron was less dangerous and the Norwegian population had good immunity to the vaccine, this might be better than feared:

– The fact that we are fully vaccinated, that alone will make the infection less dangerous. It remains to be seen when unvaccinated omicrons hit, whether they end up in hospital due to omicrons. We won’t know until three or four weeks from now.

But we must not forget that if many are infected at the same time, there may still be many who need health care. We do not know yet what will happen to the Delta virus. Will it keep increasing despite the omicron?

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