Much still to learn about worrying Omicron variant: Expert

Source: Q and A

An expert is warning the new Omicron variant of Covid is worrying because it behaves differently to previous variants of the virus.

Professor Mary-Louise McLaws from the University of New South Wales said Omicron was dangerous “because of the large number of mutations that appear to have happened all at once".

“This virus has potentially learned how to be faster in transmission, evade the immune system, and bind and fuse with the cells much more easily,” McLaws told Q+A with Jack Tame.

On Saturday night, the New Zealand government placed nine Southern African countries where the variant had been spotted on the high risk travel list, and Omicron cases have popped up in several European countries.

However, McLaws said there’s still much to learn about Omicron, and more study will be needed to determine how dangerous it is, and other variants have proven to be weaker than expected.

“This could turn into a Delta, but it’s a bit too soon to say that. It’s important to be precautionary,” said McLaws.

So far, there is no correlating spike in hospitalisations related to the spike in infections from Omicron, though McLaws said there is often a delay in hospitalisations with all Covid variants.