COVID: Has the Omicron variant actually been present before Delta and Alpha?

The Omicron variant has arrived in the UK. Study shows this strain developed much before the Delta and Alpha variants and is 3 times more contagious.

Research finds Omicron present before Delta and Beta variants
© Brendon Thorne/Bloomberg
Research finds Omicron present before Delta and Beta variants

The UK is in the third wave of COVID and now has to deal with the Omicron variant. Although this new strain has just been detected, it seems to have been present much before than previously anticipated.

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Although little is known about Omicron, Wolfgang Preiser, a German researcher at the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa, is convinced that the strain is not so new.

Omicron 3x more contagious

Research finds Omicron present before Delta and Alpha variants

For several weeks now, theCOVID pandemic has been on the rise in the UK and has claimed many victims. The Omicron variant, which initially appeared in South Africa and now in the UK, has already increased the victim count by 50%.

According to initial studies, Omicron is three times more contagious than the previous variants. The latest information present states that the Omicron developed silently even before its Delta and Alpha variants.

Preiser explained:

The Omicron variant is associated with a substantial ability to escape immunity from prior infection.

However, it is still unclear whether it is vaccine-resistant or not. Either way, the UK government continues to urge its citizens to get jabbed to 'stay protected.'

Uneven vaccine supply

Wolfgang Preiser was one of the first to discover the Omicron variant. However, no one knows yet why Omicron has become so contagious.

A few arguments stated that, while England and other developed countries hoard on booster shots, there still exists mass shortages of vaccine supply in Africa.This could have led to the slow mutation of the virus and the rise of the Omicron variant.

Preiser told the German media:

According to current knowledge, an early form of Omicron developed into a distinct virus type before Alpha and Delta appeared.
The question is why Omicron has been able to go unnoticed for so long and now explode.

While the number of infections with this variant is still low compared to Delta, this could change in the coming weeks. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) believes that this variant could become the most dominant in Europe.

COVID: This is what the Omicron variant looks like COVID: This is what the Omicron variant looks like