After South African doctors stated that the strain Omicron appears to have less severe symptoms, it could be an ideal Christmas present.  

Medics in South Africa that the strain is causing milder illness and hasn’t led to a single hospitalisation or death.

Scientists warn that they will need to wait at least 2 weeks before they can determine the impact of the Omicron strain. This is because it takes time for people to feel seriously ill after being exposed to the strain.

Two weeks is also required for scientists to determine if Omicron’s troubling mutations, which could render it more infective than Delta or make it resistant to vaccinations, will be translated into the real world.

However, Professor Karl Lauterbach (a German clinical epidemiologist) said that early reports indicate the strain may be more mild than the previous ones. This could make it a great Christmas present and might even accelerate the end to the pandemic. 

He suggested that it has so many mutations — 32 on the spike protein alone, twice as many as Delta — which could mean it is optimised to infect and be less lethal, in line with how most respiratory viruses evolve. 

It is still early, and the virus may outperform Delta. The virus might also resist vaccines or previous infections. The majority of cases so far have been seen in young people who are more susceptible to the disease than older adults. 

Researchers have known for a long time that the coronavirus will not be eliminated, but it could become a milder virus similar to the common cold.

This comes just as Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s First Minister, said that Christmas plans may be in danger due to the new strain. There are fears Britons might be stung by last-minute curbs such last year.

The Botswana variant has around 50 mutations and more than 30 of them are on the spike protein. The current crop of vaccines trigger the body to recognise the version of the spike protein from older versions of the virus. But the mutations may make the spike protein look so different that the body's immune system struggles to recognise it and fight it off. And three of the spike mutations (H665Y, N679K, P681H) help it enter the body's cells more easily. Meanwhile, it is missing a membrane protein (NSP6) which was seen in earlier iterations of the virus, which experts think could make it more infectious. And it has two mutations (R203K and G204R) that have been present in all variants of concern so far and have been linked with infectiousness

Botswana’s variant contains around 50 mutations, and over 30 are spike proteins. The body recognizes the current vaccines as the same version as the older virus versions. The mutations could make spike proteins look different, which may cause the immune system to struggle to recognize it and attack it. It can also enter your cells easier thanks to three spike mutations: H665Y (N679K), P681H (P681H). It is also missing NSP6, a membrane protein that was present in older iterations. Experts think this could make the virus more dangerous. It also has two mutations, R203K (or G204R), that were present in every variant of the virus and have been associated with infectiousness. 


South Africa registered 6,048 cases of HIV/AIDS on Saturday. This is 20 times more than the 306 cases that were reported two weeks ago. However, Saturday saw 20 deaths.

According to doctors, symptoms include fatigue, muscle pains, and headaches. They also noted that they occur in younger patients.  

Nicola Sturgeon asks for UK Arrivals to Quarantine for EIGHT DAYS

The first ministers of Scotland and Wales today called on Boris Johnson to extend Covid self-isolation rules for all UK arrivals from two to eight days to curb the spread of the Omicron variant — as Scotland confirmed six cases.

Nicola Sturgeon advised Scots that they should immediately return to their homes in order to combat the coronavirus. She said this as a warning signal for England, which could face further restrictions. 

Ms. Sturgeon said that not all Omicron cases had links to abroad. This suggests the super strain could be now spreading domestically.

Mark Drakeford and the leader of SNP Mark Drakeford demanded that Mr Johnson call an emergency COBRA meeting in order to devise a “tougher four nation” approach to dealing with this variant. 

They are also pushing for the Prime Minister to lay the groundwork for a potential return of the furlough scheme, which closed two months ago after costing more than £70billion, just in case the situation worsens. 

Downing Street, however, quickly dismissed the appeals of Ms Sturgeon, and Mr Drakeford by arguing that the Government’s initial response is still the right one. 

But they warned the first cases of the variant — scientifically known as B.1.1.529 — in South Africa have been among younger people, who tend to have higher infection levels due and experience milder illness.

Omicron can spread to older people, according to experts.

Although the full story of this new variant may not be available for six weeks, the World Health Organization warned that it could alter the trajectory of the pandemic and have’severe consequences’. 

Experts warn that vaccines will still be effective in protecting against Omicron, however real-world data will show the effectiveness of the jabs against Omicron is lower than previous strains. 

Lauterbach said that Omicron, a milder version of the virus, would make a great Christmas gift.

He cautioned however that just six percent of South Africa’s population are over 65 years old, and Germany is the most senior European country with many chronically ill citizens.  

Scientists warn that the impact of the new virus variant is still weeks away. This delay means people will not catch it immediately and become severely ill. 

American chief medical advisor Dr Anthony Fauci stated that experts will need to wait approximately two additional weeks before they can provide more information regarding transmissibility.

And Scotland’s First Minister said the coming weeks will reveal ‘much more’ about the variant.

British scientists await a live variant of this variant in order to perform further testing.

The virus and its variants are more likely to spread to younger people, as they have more daily contacts and participate in larger-scale events.

However, Dr Angelique Coetzee is the chairperson of South African Medical Association. She was the first to identify the variant in patients. 

She told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: ‘What we are seeing clinically in South Africa – and remember I’m at the epicentre – it’s extremely mild.’

Dr Coetzee said those infected with the strain recovered well at home and ‘get better within two to three days after we’ve seen them’.

When asked if the UK was ‘panicking unnecessarily’ she said: ‘I would say yes, at this stage I would say definitely.  

‘There’s no need to panic,’ she added.

The WHO warned scientists to be cautious and said that Omicron could cause more serious diseases or more transmission. 

The report stated that there is no evidence to indicate Omicron symptoms are any different than other variants.

The WHO added: ‘Initial reported infections were among university students—younger individuals who tend to have more mild disease — but understanding the level of severity of the Omicron variant will take days to several weeks. 

“All Covid variations, including the Delta version that dominates worldwide, may cause serious disease or even death for people who are most vulnerable. Therefore, prevention is key.

This is all we know so far about this variant:

Why is this so troubling?

It is said to be the worst variant of the genome they’ve ever seen and experts are concerned by its many mutations.

The variant — which the World Health Organization has named Omicron — has 32 mutations on the spike protein — the most ever recorded and twice as many as the currently dominant Delta strain. 

Experts worry that vaccines may be 40 percent less effective under the worst-case scenario.

It is due to the fact that so many changes in B.1.1.529 depend on spike protein.

Current vaccines cause the body’s recognition of older strains of the virus.

However, because of the different appearance of the spike protein on this new strain, your immune system may not be able to recognize it or fight it.

You can also find mutations on the Delta version that make it more spreadable.

Experts caution that they may not discover how infective the virus really is for two to three weeks. 

How many mutations is the variant susceptible to? 

There are more than 50 variants of the Botswana version, and over 30 mutations that occur on spike protein.

It is mutated P681H, N679K that are “rarely seen together” and might make it more jab-resistant.

This mutation, together with H655Y may make it more difficult for viruses to enter the cells.

The mutation N501Y could make this strain more transmissible. It was previously seen on the Alpha and Beta strains — which were first spotted in South Africa and Kent, respectively.

R203K and G204R are two other possible mutations that could make this virus more dangerous. However, a missing mutation from the NSP6 variant could lead to an increase in its transmission.  

Between November 11 and November 26, there were 48 direct flights from Cape Town and Johannesburg to London Heathrow. During this period, there were two British Airways flights and one Virgin Atlantic flight per day

There were 48 direct flights between Cape Town and Johannesburg and London Heathrow from November 11 to November 26. In this time, two British Airways flights were available and one Virgin Atlantic flight was offered each day.

Additionally, it has mutations K417N & E484A similar to the Beta variant. These made it easier to avoid vaccines.

But it also has the N440K, found on Delta, and S477N, on the New York variant — which was linked with a surge of cases in the state in March — that has been linked to antibody escape. 

The mutations that it also contains are Q446S and T478K.

It will have an impact on Christmas celebrations in the UK.

Experts say it could take weeks before they can determine how dangerous the new variant really is. It is unclear what additional steps will need to taken to make sure that Christmas is a safe one.

The red list has six additional countries. This is the only restriction that the government has imposed so far.

However, Professor Adam Finn (a member of Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation) stated that “we all have to be prepared for the possibility of a modification in the restrictions”.

And when asked what the situation would mean for the UK around the festive period, Health Secretary Sajid Javid said Plan B measures — including mandatory face masks and work from home guidance — would be brought in if needed to control infection rates.

Do you think it is a concern variant?

The World Health Organization has classified the virus as a ‘variant of concern’, the label given to the highest-risk strains.

Experts at WHO have determined that its mutations can spread more quickly, cause severe illnesses and hinder vaccine protection.

The UK Health and Security Agency declared that the strain is currently under investigation. 

Omicron could be carrying ‘potentially biologically significant mutations’ which may impact ‘vaccines and treatments as well as transmissibility.  

Omicron was spotted in what part of the UK 

British health chiefs announced on Saturday two cases of Omicron had been spotted in England, with one case in Chelmsford in Essex and the second in Nottingham. These cases are linked to recent South African travel.

On Sunday, a third victim was confirmed by a man who visited Westminster in London and has since fled the UK. 

And six cases were confirmed in Scotland today, four in Lanarkshire and two in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde area.

Scotland’s Deputy First Minister said some of Scotland’s cases were not linked to travel to southern Africa, suggesting the variant is already spreading in the community. 

Across the country, Government labs are examining 75 ‘probable’ cases of Omicron and up to 150 ‘possible’ cases. 

Scientists don’t sequence all positive Covid samples in the UK. Not everyone who is infected with the virus will be able to take the test. The variant could infect many other people in Britain. 

What countries have this variant been identified so far in? 

It was first detected in South Africa, the most affected country, last week. The variant was also quickly discovered in Israel, Botswana and Israel.

Since then, there have been cases reported in Australia (Australia), Germany (Italie), the Czech Republic, Australia (the UK), and Italy (the Czech Republic). 

Many cases were identified in Gauteng (a north-east South African province where Johannesburg is located). 

On November 23, the first case was uploaded to GISAID’s international variant database GISAID in Hong Kong. It was found by someone who had traveled from South Africa to find it.  

What can the UK do about this variant?

Last week, the Health Secretary added 10 new countries to this red list.

The red-listed countries are: South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Angola, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia. All direct flights between these countries and the UK will be banned.

Arriving from these countries on Sunday after 4am, anyone must remain in managed quarantine hotels for 10 nights and submit to a Covid testing on the second or third day. 

At a press conference, Prime Minister David Cameron announced Saturday that every traveller entering the UK must take a PCR test within 2 days. He will then isolate the results until they get a positive result. 

All contacts who test positive for Omicron must be isolated, regardless of whether they have been vaccinated.

Britons are required to wear masks when they shop or travel by public transportation. Masks are not permitted in bars, restaurants, and pubs.

Today, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation is expected to advise No10 on the vaccination rollout. They will expand the booster programme to include all adults and shorten the interval between each booster and the first dose. 

As things stand, people over 40, social workers in health care, and those who are vulnerable can get the jab six to eight months after receiving their first dose.

B.1.1.529 was last week classified by the UK Health Security Agency as a variant under investigation’, meaning it may have worrying mutations.

Experts conduct a risk assessment. They may change the ranking of this virus to “variant concern” if they find it to be more contagious, to cause severe illnesses or render vaccines and medications less effective.

Is this where B.1.1.529 was first discovered?

On November 23, Hong Kong uploaded the first case to GISAID’s international variant database. Person carrying this variant traveled to Hong Kong from South Africa.

According to health officials, the UK was first country to detect that the virus might be dangerous and alerted the rest. 

Although experts believe that the strain originated in Botswana and has been sequenced positively, it is not known if the origin of the variant was ever found elsewhere.

Francois Balloux from University College London said that the virus was likely to have emerged as a lingering illness in an immunocompromised person, perhaps someone suffering undiagnosed AIDS.

Because the immune system is weak, infections can persist for many months in patients who have weakened immunity. This allows the virus to evolve mutations to make it more difficult to fight.

Can I feel protected by a booster?

Scientists warn that the new strain of Covid could render vaccines 40% less effective.

However, they stated that the mutations make it all the more critical to have a booster jab as soon people can be eligible.

The best protection from the latest variant is provided by neutralizing antibodies that are activated when vaccines are administered. Experts say that more antibodies are better.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: ‘The booster jab was already important before we knew about this variant – but now, it could not be more important.’  

We will soon learn more about the variant.

Weeks remain before data on the transmissibility of this new variant and its impact on deaths and hospitalisations are available.

South Africa is the most affected country in South Africa’s cases. The UK offered to help them gather information. They believe that they can learn more about transmissibility within two or three weeks.

They may not know the details of hospitalizations or deaths for at least four to six more weeks.

Which variant is it called?

One day after its discovery in Hong Kong, the strain was named scientifically as B.1.1.529.

Friday’s announcement by the World Health Organization was based upon its system for naming new viruses based on Greek alphabet, the variant Omicron.