Omicron- A friend or a foe??

Discussion in 'Biology & Genetics' started by KUMAR5, Jan 8, 2022.

  1. KUMAR5 Valued Senior Member


    I am bit confused on it that whether Omicron variant of Covid 19 is a friend or foe to us.

    A friend can mean due to decreased severity of Covud 19 or Delta virus in the enhanced survival benefit of human being.
    .A foe can mean due to its enhanced survival by increased soread aand immunoevasion acquired by covud ir Delta infection , by vaccinatiin, by antibody on.

    .A paracytic soeci can not survive or prosper without the survival of its hosts. Then, by Omicron variant, does it nean that covid 19 evolved to a more advanced new virgin in its survival benefit by also offering sutvival benifit to its host alongwith. Do most other viruses behaved in this manner?

    Just a logical view.

    Best wishes.
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  3. billvon Valued Senior Member

    It is a foe. It will kill thousands. It is not as bad a foe as previous variants, which killed hundreds of thousands in the US alone.
    RainbowSingularity likes this.
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  5. geordief Valued Senior Member

    Any update on how virulent Omicron is in the over 70 cohorts yet?
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  7. KUMAR5 Valued Senior Member

    But if it is decreasing the killings what can't it be taken as a friend? I think Origional Covid 19 virus is evolving in its benefit also indirectly in our benefit. Tommorow on a sunny day ultimately we may get a harmless or minimal harmful virus by this natural process.
    .we need to check these:-
    1. Whether Omicron interfere in infection by its previous variants covud 19, Delta etc and will these fade away due to presence of Omicron?

    2. Whether quick reinfection of omicron after Omicron is possible?

    3. Is it the natural process of virus existence?
  8. billvon Valued Senior Member

    It is increasing the killings.
    The "natural process" is infecting as many people as possible.
  9. KUMAR5 Valued Senior Member

  10. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    I don't think that sufficient data (and sufficiently reliable data) exists to make that determination.

    Omicron appears to be extremely contagious. It spreads as easily as the common cold. That's bad.

    But it appears to cause relatively minor infections in most people. That's good.

    If those minor infections give people significantly increased immunity to more lethal variants, that would be very good.

    But we seemingly don't yet know how dangerous omicron is to vulnerable populations. That's potentially bad.

    It seems that vaccination with the existing vaccines provides little protection against infection by omicron. That's bad.

    But vaccination may (or may not) significantly reduce the severity of the resulting disease in infected people. That's good if it's true.

    My California county has about 700,000 people. Omicron is very present. According to its official figures, there are currently 63 covid "cases" hospitalized here. Of these, 11 are in ICU beds and 52 in acute care beds. It isn't clear that all of the 63 are in the hospital because of covid disease, since they test everyone admitted and if they test positive they are considered a "case" even if they are asymptomatic. So some unknown number of that 63 are probably hospitalized for heart disease, diabetes complications, accident trauma or other covid-unrelated reasons.

    So given that only about 0.01% of our population is currently hospitalized with covid, and some of these might actually have been admitted for unrelated reasons, I don't think that it's any occasion for panic.
  11. KUMAR5 Valued Senior Member

    Hello Yazata,
    Thanks for telling details in quite simple language. There is no reasonvto panic on Omicron spread, however still all things are not clear to us. But from your post I think good points about Omicron are more than bad points. So I do not take it foe as we were taking to orevious variants. I am not sure whether Omicron will acquire orominence over previous variants Covid 19, Delta etc. If so I think we shall be more comfortable. So by this consideration I also take it as friend.
  12. billvon Valued Senior Member

    I am assuming your question is really "do you think it wants to infect people and kill them" - and the answer to that is that it doesn't "want" to do anything. It has no volition. If it infects someone and does not make them symptomatic, it fails as a virus - because such viruses do not spread easily. (Sneezing, coughing etc are ways that viruses spread.) If it infects someone and kills them instantly 100% of the time, it's also a failure, because it dies out quickly.

    Almost all viruses are between those two extremes. HIV, for example, is a very successful virus, despite its horrendous effects on humans. Bubonic plague was also a very successful disease, even though it killed 50% of everyone living in Europe at the time. (And even though it was bacterial and not viral in origin.)

    The most successful from an evolutionary perspective are viruses that infect everyone. Period. If they infect everyone then they are very successful. Killing people rapidly reduces the odds of that happening, so evolutionary pressures push viruses and other pathogens in the direction of more infectious and less instantly fatal. A disease that is very contagious and kills you after five years 100% of the time would be very successful. A disease that is very contagious and never kills anyone would also be very successful.

    There's an idea out there that evolution pushes disease to be less severe and more virulent, and that this continues until it's totally benign. Not really true. It IS true that if a disease kills its victims very rapidly that that will be selected against - but beyond that, there's not much evolutionary pressure to become very benign.
  13. billvon Valued Senior Member

    People who were vaccinated early last year have very little protection against infection - but a fair amount of protection against hospitalization and/or death. People who were vaccinated recently with a booster have even more; you are about 4x less likely to have a bad outcome if you have a recent booster.
    As long as the hospitals are not overwhelmed - agreed. We can help out there with the usual measures (vaccination, masking, distancing.)
  14. KUMAR5 Valued Senior Member

    At many sites it is mentioned that immune protection either form nattural infections of Covid or delta or from vaccination work much less against Omicron(but still eork in few minority cases and that too on severity side). Hospital admissions and agressive treatments eill be lesser. Anyway nature of Omicron infection itself cause less hispitalization and previous immune protection can not be fuuly attributed to lesser severuty.

    Can it be taken it that Omicron at orimary level is covud 19 or Delta but Omicron at secondary level? Since RT pCR meant for Covud 19 also come pisitive for Omicron, it can be taken Omicron also hokd some or most features of Covud at its gross level? Accordingly it will resemble in few features like Covud and other to Onicton. It is still to be checked which hokd prominance? primary level or secondary kevel?
  15. KUMAR5 Valued Senior Member

    The Omicron variant largely evades immunity from past infection or two vaccine doses according to the latest Imperial modelling.

    The new report (Report 49) from the Imperial College London COVID-19 response team estimates that the risk of reinfection with the Omicron variant is 5.4 times greater than that of the Delta variant. This implies that the protection against reinfection by Omicron afforded by past infection may be as low as 19%. "

    Booster dose is not considered in this quote. Does is suggest antibodies related to Omicron are different or antibody protection do not happen for Omicron?

    It is well aooarent that reinfection after covud or delta to omicron happen but not clear if reinfection of Omicron anfer Omicron also hapoen or not or what kind if immune orotection people get after Onicron infection? Can anyone tell it?
  16. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Valued Senior Member

    Covid 19 is not a simple disease like catching a cold and generally being done with it. Coronavirus has a pretty wicked history, compared to catching a cold. And Covid 19 has a chronic aspect. This isn't just catching a nasty cold that might kill, but acquiring a potentially chronic disease.

    In June, 2021, Francis Collins↱, Director of NIH, published a blog ost on the agency's website that, "Along with the pneumonia, blood clots, and other serious health concerns caused by SARS-CoV-2, the COVID-19 virus, some studies have also identified another troubling connection. Some people can develop diabetes after an acute COVID-19 infection." Two separate studies, he wrote,

    … confirmed infection of pancreatic beta cells in autopsy samples from people who died of COVID-19. Additional studies by the Jackson team suggest that the coronavirus may preferentially infect the insulin-producing beta cells.

    This also makes biological sense. Beta cells and other cell types in the pancreas express the ACE2 receptor protein, the TMPRSS2 enzyme protein, and neuropilin 1 (NRP1), all of which SARS-CoV-2 depends upon to enter and infect human cells. Indeed, the Chen team saw signs of the coronavirus in both insulin-producing beta cells and several other pancreatic cell types in the studies of autopsied pancreatic tissue.

    The new findings also show that the coronavirus infection changes the function of islets—the pancreatic tissue that contains beta cells. Both teams report evidence that infection with SARS-CoV-2 leads to reduced production and release of insulin from pancreatic islet tissue. The Jackson team also found that the infection leads directly to the death of some of those all-important beta cells.

    In addition to the loss of beta cells, the infection also appears to change the fate of the surviving cells. Chen's team performed single-cell analysis to get a careful look at changes in the gene activity within pancreatic cells following SARS-CoV-2 infection. These studies showed that beta cells go through a process of transdifferentiation, in which they appeared to get reprogrammed.

    On Friday, Centers for Disease Control↱ delivered terrible news: "Persons aged <18 years with COVID-19 were more likely to receive a new diabetes diagnosis >30 days after infection than were those without COVID-19 and those with prepandemic acute respiratory infections."

    Evidence of increased pediatric type 1 diabetes has been reported during the COVID-19 pandemic (1,2). Among persons aged <18 years with COVID-19 and new diabetes diagnoses in this study, nearly one half had DKA at or around the time of diagnosis. This number was higher than that in comparison groups, and higher than previous reports of DKA among incident type 1 diabetes cases before the pandemic (28%) (9). Increased frequency of DKA at time of diagnosis of type 1 diabetes during the pandemic has previously been reported and was thought to be due to delayed care-seeking for diabetes (3). However, the observed association of increased risk for diabetes diagnosis following SARS-CoV-2 infection would not be explained solely by delayed care. COVID-19 has disproportionately affected racial/ethnic minority groups, and those aged <18 years in these groups are also at increased risk for type 2 diabetes (10). An association between COVID-19 and new pediatric diabetes diagnoses might disproportionately affect racial/ethnic minority groups. Race/ethnicity data were unavailable in the present data sets; however, future studies should address racial and ethnic disparities in COVID-19 and diabetes, and whether persons aged <18 years who are at risk for COVID-19 are also those at risk for delaying medical care ....

    .... These data suggest an increased risk for diabetes among persons aged <18 years with COVID-19, which is supported by independent studies in adults (4–7). These findings underscore the importance of COVID-19 prevention among all age groups, including vaccination for all eligible children and adolescents, and chronic disease prevention and treatment. Public health messages highlighting the risks associated with COVID-19 among the pediatric population are especially important to inform clinicians and parents about possible sequelae of COVID-19. SARS-CoV-2 infection might lead to type 1 or type 2 diabetes through complex and differing mechanisms. Partner agencies and clinicians in the field should be aware of long-term consequences and monitor persons aged <18 years in the months following a SARS-CoV-2 infection for new diabetes onset. Long-term follow-up studies of COVID-19 are warranted to further define the potential association between COVID-19 and increased diabetes risk among those in this age group.

    In the ellipsis is a paragraph about the limitations of this study, and the quick take, there, is that the news only gets worse; overall, those limitations suggest an undercount.

    Additionally, consider a neurological question with three possible answers that can all be true: Neurological symptoms are present; the data are incomplete about severe and chronic symptoms; the numbers coming in are high enough to make doctors really, really nervous. In August, a news release from the Medical University of South Carolina↱ explained:

    Elizabeth Mack, M.D., chief of pediatric critical care medicine at MUSC, contributed to a study that found that 22% of children and adolescents hospitalized with acute COVID-19 developed neurological symptoms such as altered awareness, seizures and difficulty walking or crawling. The findings were published earlier this year in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Neurology.

    Although symptoms were for the most part temporary, they were more long-lasting and severe in some children. Out of 1,695 patients nationwide, 43 developed life-threatening neurological disorders such as brain damage or stroke, 11 children died and 17 survived with continuing neurological problems ....

    .... "Of the patients, 22% had neurologic involvement, which I think surprised us all quite a bit," said Mack. "Of those cases, 88% experienced only temporary symptoms, which is certainly reassuring, but the other 12% did not bounce back and some did not survive, which are big numbers when you're looking at over 1,000 patients."

    It's unclear why some children developed serious neurological involvement from COVID-19 and MIS-C and others didn't. Most of the patients with life-threatening neurological complications did not have any major underlying conditions.

    "For whatever reason, in some kids the immune system goes wild in response to prior COVID infection," said Mack.

    Omicron is not a "friend" any more than a violent spouse is a hero for being less violent than a neighbor. The question of what counts as good news is relative; the low death toll from the Marshall Fire in Colorado is relatively good news, though a disappointment compared to, say, Thursday, when we still hoped it was zero, and also a very granular consideration compared to climate, weather, and that part of Colorado, which in turn is bad news that will most assuredly see future loss of life.

    Last month, Helen Branswell↱ of STAT News spoke with computational biologist Trever Bedford:

    Bedford believes that while there may be something intrinsically different about the way Omicron viruses attack human bodies, much of what is being reported in terms of mildness of cases can be explained by the fact that many people being infected have some immunity to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, either because they were previously infected or they've been vaccinated.

    That's the good news. The bad news is that because Omicron's mutations allow it to slip past antibodies people have acquired over the past two years, he thinks potentially half the globe may contract Omicron over the coming weeks and months.

    How concerned is Bedford about Omicron? He said he uses a "freaking out" scale of 1 to 10 to rate pandemic developments. The Delta variant was a 6. He's still not sure how bad Omicron is, saying at this point it falls somewhere between 3 and 8.

    It's a subtle range. Over at the Washington Post, Joel Achenbach and Carolyn Y. Johnson↱ observe something a little less subtle:

    The idea that omicron has a silver lining is not a fully formed scientific theory. It's conjecture, in some cases unspooled on Twitter threads and floated in television interviews. At worst, it is "arm-waving," to use the term that serious scientists employ as a pejorative.

    And even the experts promoting the idea concede that it is an educated guess—and is contingent upon the virus itself, which has repeatedly surprised experts and may generate new variants that are more dangerous than omicron.

    There is no way we end up looking back at this and declaring what a good friend to humanity Covid 19 Omicron turned out to be. Omicron will not be the last variant of Covid 19, and we also have reason to worry about chronic illness; while it might be attacking the lungs less severely, concerns about related kidney and pancreatic infection, as well as serious neurological symptoms, remind to not overstate what comfort we might find in lesser severity of short-term syptoms.

    Omicron is not a friend, full stop.
  17. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Valued Senior Member

    Notes on #13↑ above


    Achenbach, Joel and Carolyn Y. Johnson. "Omicron could have a silver lining by boosting immunity, some experts say. But don't bet on it." The Washington Post. 7 January 2022. 9 January 2022.

    Barrett, Catherine E., et al. "Risk for Newly Diagnosed Diabetes >30 Days After SARS-CoV-2 Infection Among Persons Aged <18 years — United States, March 1, 2020–June 28, 2021". Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 7 January 2022. 9 January 2022.

    Barrs, Ryan. "New study finds kids with COVID-19 or MIS-C have surprisingly high rates of neurological symptoms". MUSC Catalyst News. 18 August 2021. 9 January 2022.

    Branswell, Helen. "A computational biologist weighs in on Omicron, the future of vaccines, and the CDC's variant forecast". Stat. 22 December 2021. 9 January 2022.

    Collins, Francis. "How COVID-19 Can Lead to Diabetes". NIH Director's Blog. 8 June 2021. 9 January 2022.
  18. KUMAR5 Valued Senior Member

    Thanks for telling so much about COVID-19 and Omicron. However since Omicron show a trend toward decreased severity and fatality in proportion as compared to Covid 19 or Delta [ though increase in spread] we can have some hope that it may ne naturally slecting itself as Mr. Darwin has called 'natural selection', or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. This goal can not be achieved unless both host ( humans and virus ) survive. So this increased spread with mild trype decreased severity can suggest it may be noving towards a halmless virus for our body ..somewhat a healthy human virome alike many other virus live in our body. However it is too early expectation because variants od Covid 19 should still be coming and we do not know if varuant from Omicron will further be more mild or more virulent. However increase in virulence may depend on when survival od a particular speci is threatened probably not when it is florishing. We can not yet claim that we are killing this virus but can just claim that we are simply resisting and restricting its growth. So it may not behave in a manner as if its survival is threatened.....say may go on toward milder one. Good luck. Just my logical view.
  19. Arthur Smith Registered Member

  20. exchemist Valued Senior Member

  21. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    It seems to be not entirely clear yet whether the apparent decreased severity of the Omicron variant is due to intrinsically milder effects, or that its incidence to date may be mainly among younger people and those who already have some immunity (from vaccination or previous infection with other variants). There have been some studies that seem to show it does not go for the lungs in the same way as previous variants. (It is the lung damage that causes most of the severe disease.) And the symptoms of Omicron are apparently much closer to what one gets with a "normal" cold or 'flu' - runny nose, sore throat etc., which would fit with those findings.

    One thing is clear: even though it is not very good at preventing infection with this variant, vaccination does give good protection against severe disease. So vaccination remains a high priority.
  22. Arthur Smith Registered Member

    I think it rather indicates that the risk of severe symptoms from a COVID infection are higher for diabetics.
  23. Arthur Smith Registered Member

    Absolutely. Plus the millions who have been vaccinated without adverse result demonstrate how safe these vaccines are. There is no downside to being vaccinated.

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