Found in Botswana, the coronavirus strain was named “omicron” – the 15th letter of the Greek alphabet, while the previous two letters “nu” and “xi” were missed by WHO. According to representatives of the organization, in the first case, the name of the strain would resemble the word “new” and would confuse people, and in the second it could cause a wave of anti-Chinese hatred and propaganda. The omicron strain is considered much more dangerous because of its potential to bypass vaccines.
A new strain of coronavirus identified in Botswana and South Africa is called omicron, because the previous two letters of the Greek alphabet could cause negative socio-political consequences. Associated Press reports about it with reference to the statement of the World Health Organization ( WHO ) .
Before the letter “omicron” are the letters “nu” and “xi”. In the first case, if the strain were called a nu-strain, it could be misunderstood by English-speaking people. The reason for this is the similar sounding of the name of the letter with the word new, “new”.
They decided to skip the letter “xi” because of its similarity with the Chinese surname Xi, “Xi”. In addition, the President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping possesses such a surname .
Given the many accusations against China in connection with the origin of the coronavirus, the name of the new strain “si” would spark “an unintentional anti-Chinese reaction and a wave of sinophobia.”
WHO emphasized that when labeling diseases and viruses, it always avoids “offensive to any ethnic, cultural, national, social, regional or professional group.”
What does China have to do with it
In the United States, evidence of the artificial origin of COVID-19 was previously found in the Wuhan laboratory – this follows from the report of the Republicans from the lower house of the American Congress. According to the authors of the study, Chinese scientists conducted an “invisible” study of “gain-of-function mutations”, which resulted in the emergence of SARS-CoV-2.
China refused to cooperate with WHO in the second phase of the investigation into the origin of SARS-CoV-2. Beijing accused WHO of “political posturing” and said that the virus originated naturally, a person contracted it from an animal.
At the same time, ex- US State Department officer David Asher, who was investigating the origin of COVID-19 under ex-President Donald Trump , said it was “ridiculous to believe” that the coronavirus could naturally pass from animals to humans.
“The Wuhan Institute of Virology was the epicenter of China’s synthetic biology. They started some very difficult things related to the so-called methods of increasing functionality, ”he said.
At the same time, the chief virologist of the United States, Anthony Fauci, announced that the coronavirus had appeared on the food market in Wuhan. The White House believes that all versions are worth considering.
On May 24, The Wall Street Journal published excerpts from an American intelligence report on the possible appearance of the coronavirus a couple of months before the start of the global epidemic.
The WSJ material claims that three employees of the institute’s laboratory in Wuhan sought medical help with severe symptoms of an infectious disease. It also noted that the intelligence document contained details of the patients’ visits to hospitals.
The official representative of the Foreign Ministry of China Zhao Lijiang said that WSJ publish untrue. He noted that, according to a statement from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, as of March 23, 2021, not a single employee of the institute had contracted a coronavirus infection.
The astonishing omicron
The new strain was identified in Botswana, South Africa and Hong Kong. Experts point out that it may prove to be more pathogenic than other known variants of the coronavirus. It contains many mutations (32) and has more changes in the spike protein than all other COVID-19 variants. Mostly young people suffer from it, according to media reports.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that the new strain of coronavirus B.1.1.529 (“omicron”) can be transmitted between vaccinated people.
The head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, warned that a new strain of coronavirus could spread around the world within a few months.
WHO spokeswoman Maria Van Kerkhove told the British newspaper Financial Times that the omicron COVID-19 strain could have originated from an infected person who was not fully cured.
According to her, it could be a patient with a weakened immune system, in whose body the virus multiplied for a long time. She also urged not to “stigmatize” countries that report new strains – and not to call the new strain “Botswana”.
At the same time, opinions about the dangers of the omicron differ.
Britain’s chief sanitary doctor Chris Whitty and Oxford University professor John Bell have questioned the increased danger of the new omicron coronavirus strain, writes The Daily Telegraph.
“We always knew that from time to time new strains would appear <…> but we don’t know much, and I think it’s not worth going into speculation yet,” the publication quoted Whitty as saying. Bell, in turn, noted that the new omicron coronavirus strain can ultimately cause only a runny nose and headaches in carriers, but it will not become a reason for hospitalizations.
The chairman of the South African Medical Association, practicing doctor Angelique Kutze spoke about the first and main signs of infection with the omicron strain of coronavirus.
According to her, patients complain of extreme fatigue, depression and severe headache. At the same time, fever and sore throat occurred only in one or two people among several dozen infected
“An omicron-infected strain does not need hospital care and oxygen. Those who turned to me for help recovered in 2-3 days. They spent all this time at home, ”said the specialist.
Virologist, Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences Pyotr Chumakov told in a conversation with URA.ru how the omicron strain could have appeared.
He suggested that a new variant of the coronavirus developed in the body of a person infected with HIV.
“The strain“ delta ”came out of India, and there is very low sanitation, there are a lot of weakened people suffering from all sorts of diseases <…>“ Omicron ”could appear in an HIV-infected person with a weakened immune system. In such patients, new variants appear with greater frequency, ”the specialist said.
Ilaria Capua, an Italian virologist who runs the health department at the University of Florida (USA), said that the new omicron coronavirus strain is not the last and not necessarily the most dangerous variant of COVID-19, the Italian newspaper La Stampa writes .
“I don’t understand what the news is. We know the virus continues to spread among those who are not vaccinated. And the emergence of options is natural, in the future there will be others, and it is not necessary that this [omicron-strain] is the worst, ”said Capua.