Omicron variant may have come from mice, says research in China

The ommicron variant has reshaped the state of the coronavirus pandemic. Events have been cancelled. The number of cases is rising. And we’ve barely entered January.

However, researchers wondered where the ommicron variant came from. Scientists in China recently published a study suggesting that the ommicron variant may have come from mice.

  • The study β€” published in the Journal of Genetics and Genomics and available to read on the pre-pint server bioRxiv β€” examined why the omicron variant is so different compared to other COVID-19 variants.
  • A team of scientists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing found that the omicron variant “was very similar to the mutations associated with virus evolution in mouse cells,” according to IFL Science.
  • “In addition, they say the mutations show that the virus has adapted to infect mouse cells,” reports IFL Science.

The scientists suggest that the omicron variant may have jumped from mouse to humans at some point, affecting our entire lives.

  • “Our results suggest that the precursor of Omicron jumped from humans to mice, rapidly accumulated mutations conducive to infecting that host, and then jumped back into humans, indicating an inter-species evolutionary trajectory for the Omicron outbreak,” the study authors wrote.

Scientists in South Africa discovered the ommicron variant over Thanksgiving weekend and sounded the alarm about the emerging new variant. However, it is unclear where the variant first came from.

According to BBC News, some scientists in South Africa have a “highly plausible hypothesis” that the omicron variant came from an immunocompromised patient infected with COVID-19.

  • “Normally, your immune system would get rid of a virus pretty quickly, if it’s fully functional,” Linda-Gayle Bekker, a professor who leads the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation in Cape Town, South Africa, told BBC News.
  • β€œIn someone whose immunity is suppressed, we see the virus persist. And it doesn’t just stay put, it replicates. And as it replicates, it undergoes possible mutations. And in someone whose immunity is suppressed, that virus could potentially persist for many months β€” as it mutates,” she added.

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