Genome Characterization and Potential Risk Assessment of the Novel SARS-CoV-2 Variant Omicron (B.1.1.529)

Announcing a new article publication for Zoonoses journal. Si Qin, Mengnan Cui, Siqi Sun, Jiyang Zhou, Zongmin Du, Yujun Cui and Hang Fan from the Beijing Institute of Microbiology and Epidemiology, Beijing, China review genome characterization and potential risk assessment of the novel SARS-CoV-2 variant Omicron (B.1.1.529).

As the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 spread around the world, multiple waves of variants emerged, thus leading to local or global population shifts during the pandemic. A new variant named Omicron (PANGO lineage B.1.1.529), which was first discovered in southern Africa, has recently been proposed by the World Health Organization to be a Variant of Concern. This variant carries an unusually large number of mutations, particularly on the spike protein and receptor binding domain, in contrast to other known major variants. Some mutation sites are associated with enhanced viral transmission, infectivity, and pathogenicity, thus enabling the virus to evade the immune protective barrier. Given that the emergence of the Omicron variant was accompanied by a sharp increase in infection cases in South Africa, the variant has the potential to trigger a new global epidemic peak. Therefore, continual attention and a rapid response are required to decrease the possible risks to public health.

Article reference: Si Qin, Mengnan Cui and Siqi Sun et al. Genome Characterization and Potential Risk Assessment of the Novel SARS-CoV-2 Variant Omicron (B.1.1.529). Zoonoses. Vol. 1(1). DOI: 10.15212/ZOONOSES-2021-0024

Keywords: COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, Omicron variant, risk assessment, genome characterization

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