ROME, Italy — The new COVID variant Omicron has many more mutations than the Delta variant, according to a first “image” of this new variant initially detected in South Africa, produced and published by the prestigious Bambino Gesu hospital in Rome.
On the three-dimensional “image”, which looks like a map, “we can clearly see that the Omicron variant presents many more mutations than the Delta variant, concentrated above all in one area of the protein that interacts with human cells”, the team of researchers said in a statement Sunday.
“This does not automatically mean that these variations are more dangerous, just that the virus has further adapted to the human species by generating another variant,” the researchers said.
“Other studies will tell us if this adaptation is neutral, less dangerous or more dangerous,” they added.
The research team focused on the search for mutations in “the three-dimensional structure of the spike protein”, Claudia Alteri, professor of clinical microbiology at Milan State University and a researcher at Bambino Gesu, told AFP.
The image was produced “from the study of the sequences of this new variant made available to the scientific community” coming mainly “from Botswana, South Africa and Hong Kong”.
“This image, which represents a map of all the variations, describes the mutations of Omicron but does not define its role,” she said.
“It will now be important to define through laboratory experiments whether the combination of these mutations can have an impact on transmission or on the effectiveness of vaccines, for example,” she added.