What is the COVID-19 Omicron variant (B.1.1.529) ? - Vitrosens Biotechnology

What is the COVID-19 Omicron variant (B.1.1.529) ?

29 November 2021

Everyday a term or phenomena has entered our lives since we have faced with SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. Recently the agenda of the world has been filled with the word of “Omicron”. Some of us may know this word as “Nu” from the news. The word “Omicron” or “Nu” refers as a new and concerning variant of SARS-CoV-2. In this article, we examine the variant “Omicron” in the aspects of its mutations, spread, and fatality. If you have questions about the “Omicron” variant, you may enjoy this article.

The Origin of The Name “Omicron”

Naming a variant can be a detailed process as in the case of naming the “Omicron” variant. In the times, the “variant” term entered in our lives, WHO named them as their origin country of spread. However, this application brough a racist approach with it. This approach may result in a series of diplomatic crises. For this situation, WHO stopped the classification based on the country, and named the variants as Greek letters: alpha, beta, gamma, delta and so on. However, as we examine the Greek letters (can be found below), WHO skipped two letters for naming this “Omicron” variants. Actually, there are results behind the fact.

Almost everyone who interested in this variant, expects the name as “Nu” – the letter after the letter “Mu”-. Most of the news, also, announced the name of the variant as “Nu”, however, WHO named the variant as “Omicron”. The probable reason behind that “Nu” sound like the word “New” in English. You can ask the question “How about the letter ‘Xi’ – the letter after ‘Nu’-?” It is a reasonable question but, the letter “Xi” evokes the name of the president of China (Xi Jinping). Remember the possibility of diplomatic crises we mentioned above.

At the end of the story, the naming this new variant as “Omicron” is a phonetic and politic choice of WHO.

Mutations of The Variant


The media around the world highlight and called the Omicron variant as “the most mutated variant”. The reason and the impact of it will be discussed in this chapter.

The variant “Omicron” had a high number of mutations approximately 30. According to the WHO (World Health Organization), preliminary evidence showed an increased risk of reinfection. This variant (Omicron) probably mutated after being transmitted to an undiagnosed AIDS patient, said Professor Balloux, a scientist at the University of London College. The high number of mutations can seem like a negative side, but we do not have the statistical data that suggest the situation, yet. “This does not inherently indicate that these variations are more hazardous; rather, the virus has further adapted to the human species by developing another version,” the researchers were cited as saying in Italian media.

Omicron Variant

This variety of Omicron contains a huge number of mutations, some of which are potentially harmful. According to reports, the new coronavirus variation (Omicron) includes more than 30 mutations in the spike protein domain and hence has the potential to create immune escape mechanisms. Because most vaccinations operate by generating antibodies against the spike protein, several mutations in the spike protein area may reduce the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines. However, manufacturers of the vaccine, especially BioNTech, begun their clinical experiments for their variant, such as Omicron, based vaccine.

Spread of Omicron Variant

The high number of mutations carried by Omicron variant, causes the question “How about its rate of spread?”. Basically, we do not know if it causes illness to spread quicker, makes immunizations or treatments less effective, or leads to more severe disease. It is due to the lack of statistical data. However, many scientists highlighted the probability of quick spread rate of Omicron variant.

We do not know if the variant “Omicron” causes SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) to spread quicker, makes immunizations or treatments less effective, or leads to more severe disease. However, several governments throughout the world have now opted to prohibit or limit travel to and from southern Africa.

Because we do not have sufficient statistical data yet, all suggestions remain as probabilities. Some probabilities include:

  • with genetic modifications expected or known to impact viral features such as transmissibility, illness severity, immunological escape, diagnostic or therapeutic escape; and an increase in transmissibility or a negative change in COVID-19 epidemiology;
  • a rise in virulence or a shift in the clinical presentation of a disease;
  • decline in the efficacy of public health and social interventions, as well as accessible diagnostics, vaccinations, and treatments

That has been recognized as producing considerable community transmission or several COVID-19 clusters in many countries, with growing relative prevalence with increasing number of cases over time, or other obvious epidemiological implications indicating an expanding concern to global public health

Fatality of Omicron variant

Although we do not have any sufficient statistical data for the fatality of the Omicron variant, WHO already classified the variant “Omicron” as “variant of concern”. The concerning factor may arise from the symptom of the Omicron variant.

Some of the key symptoms of the COVID-19 are not displayed by the Omicron patients. Most of them are young males. Half of the patients had not been immunized, and none of the Omicron patients had lost their sense of smell or taste. The differences between the other variants and the Omicron variant, in the aspect of symptoms, may cause the late detection of COVID-19 disease. This situation prevents the early treatment strategies and that is really concerning.

As we mentioned before, the fatality of the Omicron variant remains uncertain since we do not enough data. However, the fatality can increase indirectly due to symptom differences. Only thing we can do to hope for that it will not become the dominant variant.

Can Rapid Antigen Test Kits Detect the Omicron Variant?

RapidFor ™ SARS-CoV-2 Rapid Antigen Test Kit recognizes the nucleocapsid protein of   SARS-CoV-2 by pairing the selected monoclonal antibody. It is important because although “Omicron” (B.1.1.529) variant has the high number of mutations, none of its mutations are carried in the region of our interest, all of the mutations are carried in the spike protein of the virus. In the light of our academic knowledge, we suggest that our test kits still detect the “Omicron” variant of SARS-CoV-2.


SARS-CoV-2 Antigen Rapid Test Kit, COVID-19 Test Manufacturer.
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SARS-CoV-2 Antigen Rapid Test Kit, COVID-19 Test Manufacturer.
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Copyright by Vitrosens Biotechnology. All rights reserved.

Copyright by Vitrosens Biotechnology. All rights reserved.