The Omicron variant is less severe in comparison to other SARS-CoV-2 variants as the lungs are mostly spared in such COVID-19 cases, according to new animal research.
Omicron had less severe effects on small animals such as hamsters and mice, The New York Times reported on Saturday. Infection by the variant that were detected caused less severe damage to the nose, throat and windpipe.
Animal research can reportedly help clear up questions regarding the new research, the Times report stated. It also cited data suggesting that the Omicron variant is milder than Delta and other SARS-CoV-2 ones. This was confirmed when scientists concluded that hamsters became severely ill from all other variants of the coronavirus.
Other studies showed that the presence of Omicron in the lungs was a tenth or less than the viral load of other variants. One study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature by Hong Kong University researchers, confirmed that Omicron replicated more slowly than Delta and other coronavirus variants.
Last Tuesday, another study published in Live Science reported that Omicron is unlikely to "[enter] lung cells," adding that some of the initial data from South Africa, the variant's country of origin, indicated that the strain causes less damage.
A study published in bioRxiv stated that the new variant dodges most of the antibodies made by those who are fully vaccinated.
Regarding the pandemic, Israel registered almost 5,000 new COVID-19 cases last Thursday and approved a fourth vaccine shot to be given to those who are at risk of contracting the virus or suffering from severe symptoms. This was announced by Health Ministry Dir.-Gen. Prof. Nachman Ash.
In the US, health experts warned citizens that "a rising tide of COVID-19 cases led by the Omicron variant threatens major disruptions to their lives."