New Studies on Animal & Human Tissue Show Why The Omicron Variant Causes Less Severe Illness


Lab results for the Omicron variant are in. Quite literally.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues and more variants are popping up, research teams are doing their due diligence to study its effect and compare it to the other COVID-19 variants.


Omicron is not Omnipotent

According to the first batch of research studies conducted on lab animals and human tissues, Omicron is proven to be less damaging than its sibling variants because it does less harm to lungs, since its damages are limited to the upper respiratory system of the nose, throat and windpipe, whereas the previous variants tended to cause scarring in the lungs and serious breathing difficulties, thus leading to more severe consequences.

When the Omicron variant was first discovered by South African scientists in November, they were only able to discern that it had more than 50 mutations compared to the other variants, but not how it would behave in the human body.

Fortunately, a large number of research groups were hard at work, testing the new variant on identical animals under controlled settings like hamsters and mice, all of which pointed to the same conclusion:

Omicron is milder than Delta and the earlier variants. Their studies showed that those infected with Omicron suffered less lung damages, lost less weight, and it was overall less fatal.

In the hamsters, which became severely ill from the other variants, they showed one-tenth or less Omicron effects in their lungs.

Likewise in the University of Hong Kong, 12 extracted and studied lung samples exhibited that Omicron proliferated at a slower rate than Delta and the previous variants.

A team in particular seems to have the answers as to why Omicron fares worse than the other variants in the lungs on the molecular level, stating that “many cells in the lung carry a protein called TMPRSS2 on their surface that can inadvertently help passing viruses gain entry into the cell… [but] this protein does not grab on to Omicron well.”

So… What does this all mean?

Small Silver Lining on a Cloud

Kind of.

To put it in simpler terms, the symptoms caused by the Omicron Variant are not as severe as the other COVID variants.

The milder symptoms also explains why the case numbers have surged up immensely, but the hospitalisation rates were significantly lower.

However, much like its sibling variants, Omicron is also a variant of concern, since it has proven to be as infectious, if not more.

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Questions at Hand

Strangely enough, the earlier cases of Omicron patients were in the younger generation, who were less susceptible to suffering severe effects from the other COVID-19 variants, and in people who had some immunity to the previous viruses or were vaccinated.


Although rigorous studies are still undergoing, the researchers and scientists alike are puzzled by Omicron’s enhanced transmissibility, besides the fact that it is capable of evading antibodies.

There have been theories like the Omicron variant carrying a mutation that weakens immunity to a molecular alarm that triggers our immunity system once it invades our nose, or it has more to do with nasal passages and saliva, as Dr Sara Cherry, a virologist at Perelman School of Medicine in the University of Pennsylvania, opines.

It could even be that it lasts longer in the air, or it is better equipped at infiltrating new hosts.

Since the studies are in its early stages, it’s hard to come to any conclusive evidence about why Omicron reacts differently in the human body compared to the other COVID-19 variants.

Nevertheless, having results and steady process is always reassuring.


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