Omicron variant has become the dominant variant in every country that is witnessing a new Wave. The extremely high rate at which the Omicron is spreading might be due to the inherent immune escape capabilities than the high viral load.The Omicron variant became the dominant variant infecting both vaccinated and the unvaccinated persons in ma ny countries just one month after the World Health Organization designated it a variant of concern on November 26, 2021. Two months since, Omicron has become the dominant variant in every country that is witnessing a new wave. In short, Omicron has replaced the Delta variant, which was considered highly transmissive in almost every country across the world. One of the defining features of a new variant is the higher transmissibility than the existing variant. If the Delta variant was found to be highly transmissible when compared with the Alpha variant, the Omicron variant has been found to be extremely transmissive when compared with the Delta variant . Earlier studies suggested that the extremely high transmissibility of the Omicron variant was probably due to higher viral load in an infected person. The higher the viral load in a person, the greater are the chances that the infected person can successfully spread it to others. This is because the infected person tends to release larger amounts of the virus. While the Delta variant require a relatively longer period of exposure before a person gets infected, the Omicron variant has been found to spread within a few minutes of exposure. But the results of a study posted in medRxiv preprint server has found that the viral load is nearly the same with both variants — Delta and Omicron. Backed by mutations With the Omicron variant possessing many mutations that allows it to escape the immune system better even in previously infected or fully vaccinated people, the extremely high rate at which the Omicron variant is spreading might be due to inherent immune escape capabilities rather than the high viral load as it was previously thought.
Omicron and Delta
Another team led by the searchers from the Universi ty of Geneva, Switzerland, went a step further to mea sure the number of infec tious virus particles present on the swabs collected from 150 infected people. The re sults are posted on preprint server medRxiv, and the pap er is yet to be peer-reviewed. They found that break through infections caused by the Delta variant had lower number of virus particles than unvaccinated people with Delta infection. Surprisingly, the number of virus particles in vaccinated indivi duals with Omicron infection was comparable with indivi duals with Delta break through infections.Contrary to the previous notion that people infected with Omicron have higher vi ral loads than those infected with the Delta variant, the study by the University of Ge neva found that vaccinated people infected with Delta or Omicron had nearly similar viral loads.