Researchers unravel omicron’s secrets to better understand COVID-19

In two recent studies, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found evidence that the omicron variant of the virus that causes COVID-19 causes less severe disease than previous variants — at least in rodents — but that many antibody-based therapies may not be effective against it. (Image: Getty Images)
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When South African scientists announced in November that they had identified a new variant of the virus that causes COVID-19, they also reported two worrying details: one, that this new variant’s genome was strikingly different from that of any previous variant, containing dozens of mutations compared with the original virus that emerged in 2019; and two, that the new variant — dubbed omicron — was spreading like wildfire.