Omicron coronavirus variant could be the same as Delta –infectious disease expert

Published December 1, 2021, 12:43 PM

by Analou de Vera


The new coronavirus variant called Omicron could exhibit the same characteristics just like that of the Delta variant, a health expert said on Wednesday, Dec. 1.

The Omicron variant has sparked concerns among infectious disease experts, said Dr. Rontgene Solante, chief of the Adult Infectious Diseases and Tropical Medicine Unit of San Lazaro Hospital, in an interview over ABS-CBN News Channel.

“I don’t think this is weaker because looking at the mutations, it’s really a concern among us experts at infectious diseases, and there’s a possibility that it can behave the same as Delta or even more,” said Solante.

Solante said that this new variant could be “highly transmissible” and it “might evade also the antibodies that we have from vaccines.”

“These are all possibilities because this is the first time we have seen a variant of concern wherein you have—to be exact—32 mutations in the spike protein, and these 32 mutations are really significant that it can be highly transmissible and can also affect our vaccines,” he said.

However, Solante noted that “most of the variants mutate to be weaker as the pandemic goes on.”

“As the virus stays in our body, they become weaker. But there are vulnerable populations that this virus can stay longer, and I think this mutation was driven in a patient who is immunocompromised. It stays longer in the body and since it will adapt to survive in that particular body wherein the immune response is so weak, then that’s where the mutation comes in,” he said.

Solante believes that the current vaccines against the coronavirus can still be effective against this new variant.

“It’s not totally ineffective because out of these 32 mutations, nine of these overlap with Alpha, Gamma and Delta, and we know that the vaccines we are using are still effective against the Delta or even the Gamma variants of concern,” he said.