(The Hill) — A virologist who helped identify the coronavirus omicron variant said this week that it is “more of a Frankenstein” than previous variants.
“This is probably the most mutated virus we’d ever seen,” said Alex Sigal, the head of a team of researchers working to learn more about the new variant, according to CBS News. “It’s always something new. I mean, the virus keeps surprising us.”
Omicron has more than 50 mutations, reportedly enhancing its ability to infect people.
Sigal’s team, according to CBS News, is currently working with other scientists to determine the variant’s transmissibility, as well as its effects on people who have been immunized.
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Sigal said he is confident that the existing COVID-19 vaccines will protect against hospitalizations and severe illness with omicron, though their efficacy against it has not been thoroughly tested.
He also warned that lagging vaccination rates in Africa could lead to continued mutations of the virus, CBS News reported.
The omicron variant was first detected in South Africa and has since been found in neighboring countries as well as the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Israel, Italy, Germany and Belgium.