A new study has discovered that the Omicron coronavirus variant can multiply 70 times faster in human airways than Delta. These findings could help explain why the virus is so highly transmissible.
The study, conducted by a team from the University of Hong Kong, found the new Covid variant to multiply faster.
This happens in the airways, particularly in the bronchus, which is the main tube leading from the windpipe to a lung.
This new data could help explain the fast transmission of Omicron.
The research, published by the LKS Faculty of Medicine at the University of Hong Kong, also identified the variant to grow 10 times slower in the lung tissue.
READ MORE: Omicron symptoms: Seven early symptoms to spot and why they differ from the Delta variant
The research team explained this might indicate the disease is less “severe”.
Michael Chan Chi-wai, who led the study, explained the findings need to be interpreted with caution.
He added that the severity of the disease is determined not only by how quickly the virus replicates but also by a person’s immune response to the virus.
The lead researcher noted that Omicron is still likely “to be very significant”.
What are the main symptoms of Omicron?
The symptoms linked to the new variant appear to be different from the traditional symptoms listed on the NHS website.
Previous variants have been associated with signs, including dry cough, fever, and loss of sense of smell and taste.
These are the main symptoms of the new variant reported from South Africa:
- Scratchy throat
- Muscle aches
- Extreme tiredness
- Dry cough
- Night sweats.
This initial data, published online, has not been peer-reviewed yet.
Chan Chi-wai said: “Taken together with our recent studies showing that the Omicron variant can partially escape immunity from vaccines and past infection, the overall threat from Omicron variant is likely to be very significant.
“It is also noted that, by infecting many more people, a very infectious virus may cause more severe disease and death even though the virus itself may be less pathogenic.”
He added: “In contrast, the Omicron variant replicated less efficiently (more than 10 times lower) in the human lung tissue than the original Sars-CoV-2 virus, which may suggest lower severity of the disease.”