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World Faces New Threats From Fast-Mutating Omicron Variants

Bloomberg business news
Covid Mutation Helped by Slow US Booster Uptake: Moderna
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Since emerging in late 2021, the highly transmissible omicron strain of SARS-CoV-2 has splintered into a dazzling array of subvariants that are now driving fresh waves of Covid-19 cases around the world. The proliferation of such a diversity of variants is unprecedented, and pits numerous hyper-mutated iterations against each other in a race for global dominance. That’s turbo-charged Covid, making it one of the fastest-spreading diseases known to humanity and further challenging pandemic-mitigation efforts in a global population already weary of frequent booster shots, testing and masking.

Omicron was first identified in southern Africa late last year, when it outcompeted the delta variant. Omicron’s initial iteration, B.1.1.529, is characterized by some 30 mutations in the gene for the spike protein, which gives the coronavirus its crown-like appearance and allows it to invade cells. Changes there can make the pathogen less recognizable to the antibodies the immune system makes in response to vaccination or a case of Covid, increasing the risk of infection