According to Australia’s Queensland state, a new omicron lineage was found in a traveler from South Africa, health authorities said last week.
Scientists say that the new lineage of this variant cannot be detected with typical screening. Peter Aitken, the state’s acting chief health officer, told reporters “It was found in a traveler who had arrived from South Africa and tested positive for the coronavirus on Saturday.”
He continued, “The new lineage has enough markers to be able to classify it as omicron, but we don’t know enough about it as to what that means then as far as clinical severity, vaccine effectiveness. We now have omicron and omicron-like.”
Scientists may now see this discovery as a setback toward understanding the full impact of the omicron variant. They are racing the understand how severe the strain is and whether vaccines are effective at reducing risk of severe disease.
According to the researchers, “the new lineage has about half of the genome mutations of the conventional omicron variant and doesn’t have the s-gene dropout feature, making it harder to track through PCR testing”. Aitken added that the discovery is “going to lead to improvements in people recognizing potential spread of omicron in all communities.”
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