January 29, 2023

The Omigron variant may have taken over a portion of the common cold virus

People line up at the Popup Covit-19 test site in New York, USA on December 3, 2021. REUTERS / Jeenah Moon

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New York, Dec. 3 (Reuters) – An omigran variant of the virus that causes Covit-19 may have acquired at least one of its mutations by extracting genetic material from another virus – possibly causing the common cold. According to the researchers, the same affected cells.

This gene sequence did not appear in earlier versions of the corona virus called SARS-CoV-2, but is found everywhere in many viruses that cause the common cold and in the human genome, the researchers said.

By inserting this particular snippet into himself, Omigron will make himself look “more human,” which will help avoid an attack by the human immune system, said Venky Soundarajan of Cambridge, a data analysis firm based in Massachusetts. Study Posted on Thursday on the OSF Preprints website.

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This indicates that the virus spreads very easily, while causing only mild or asymptomatic disease. Omigron is more contagious than other variants, and scientists still do not know whether it causes more severe disease or overtakes Delta as a more widespread variant. It may take several weeks to get the answers to these questions.

According to previous studies, cells in the lung and gastrointestinal tract may simultaneously carry SARS-CoV-2 and the common cold-corona virus. Such co-infection sets the stage for virus reprocessing, in which two different viruses in the same host cell interact while making duplicates themselves, creating new copies containing some genetic material from both “parents”.

When the version of SARS-CoV-2 took a genetic sequence from another virus, this new mutation may have first occurred in a person infected with both pathogens, Soundarajan and colleagues said in the study, which has not yet been reviewed.

Soundarajan said the same genetic sequence appears several times in one of the corona viruses that causes the common cold in humans, called HCOV-229E, and in the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which causes AIDS.

South Africa, where Omigron was first diagnosed, has the highest HIV rate in the world, which weakens the immune system and increases a person’s susceptibility to infections caused by the common cold viruses and other pathogens. Soundarajan said that in that part of the world, the reunion of these ubiquitous genes into Omicron may have occurred to many.

Soundarajan added that “we may have missed the reforms of many generations that have taken place over time”.

Further research is needed to confirm the origin and function of Omigran mutations and their effects on proliferation. There are competing hypotheses that the latest variant may have spent some time developing in an animal host.

Meanwhile, Soundarajan said the new findings underscore the importance of obtaining the currently available COVID-19 vaccine.

“Others with immunodeficiency should be vaccinated to reduce the risk of contracting the SARS-CoV-2 virus,” Soundarajan said.

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Report by Nancy Lobit; Editing by Dunham

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