Scientists discovered a second’sister” lineage to the Omicron Covid super-mutant variant.  

A South African man in Queensland who tested positive for Omicron has a genetically different version of the virus that experts have dubbed ‘Omicron Like’.

He is currently being treated at the Brisbane hotel quarantine facility for mild Covid symptoms after he returned to South Africa’s Omicron epicenter.

Yvette DiAth, Queensland’s minister of health confirmed the fact that Omicron had been divided into two different lineages by an international committee.

She said, “We’re standing here to announce a new Omicron version and it’s the first of its kind in the world.”

Omicron-like symptoms are also reported in South Africa as well as Canada, though no cases have yet been reported here.  

Omicron Like has a key distinction. Health officials are unable to use a specific genetic feature in Omicron Like to monitor the spread of super-mutant strains. 

This is known as Omicron’s S gene dropout. It can be identified using a simple PCR test instead of more complex lab tests. 

The fact that Omicron Like does not have this S gene dropout means this shortcut cannot be used, meaning it will be harder to track as an outbreak. 

Omicron Like has less mutations than the original Omicron, so there isn’t any information on whether it is even more infectious. 

Queensland has recorded two cases of the Omicron Covid-19 variant but health authorities say there are differences between them (pictured travellers at Brisbane Airport)

Queensland has two Omicron Covid-19 cases, however health officials say that they are different. (pictured at Brisbane Airport for travellers).

Health Minister Yvette D'Ath (pictured) confirmed Omicron has now been classified into two lineages by the international committee, and both have been detected in Queensland

Yvette Dath, Health Minister (pictured), confirmed that Omicron was now classified by an international committee into two linesages and has been found in Queensland

Peter Aitken, Queensland’s Chief Medical Officer, stated that experts could distinguish the genetic differences between Omicron types. 

‘[They]He acknowledged that the Omicron standard classifications are not the same, and he sent it off to the international commission in record time.

What is known about the ‘Omicron Like?

The virus’s genetic makeup is different from that of Omicron. However, it remains unclear how this could impact the degree of infectivity or severity. 

Omicron Like has 14 mutations to Omicron’s 32.

This is however twice as many mutations that were found on the dominant Delta variant. 

A key difference among the Omicrons and the other Omicrons lies in the S gene dropping out.

This quirk of Omicron, where a particular gene is absent, made it quick to detect in a PCR test, making tracking Omicron outbreaks  easier.

Omicron like does not have an S gene dropout. This means it may fly under the radar for PCR testing and instead appear as Covid.

This means that a person diagnosed with Omicron like will be tested positive for Covid, but we may not immediately suspect it to be an Omicron case. It could make tracking down and learning more about the outbreaks slower. 

Omicron has a higher transmissibility than Omicron, so Omicron Like might also have these qualities.  

Omicron can make you more sick than Omicron, but there is some preliminary evidence that Omicron produces milder cases of Covid. 

However, it can still pose a risk to public health as its greater transmissibility may lead to increased hospitalizations and consequently impacting health services.

“This led to the reclassification Omicron.

It (Omicron-like) contains enough genes for Omicron classification, but it is not well understood.

“What we do not know is that Omicron spreads more quickly and is more contagious.”  

Laboratories have reported that the Omicron original variant was identified by PCR testing. However, only one target gene has been detected.

It is called S gene dropout, which Dr Aitken stated that the new sub-lineage doesn’t have.

Omicron cases can be tracked quickly using the S gene Dropout test. This is a simple and straightforward PCR test that can detect it.

The fact that ‘Omicron Like’ doesn’t have the S gene dropout makes it harder to initially detect and therefore track as a specific outbreak.

The ‘Normal Omicron’ has approximately 30 gene mutations, while the sub-lineage of new Omicron is about 14. 

Omicron Like was introduced to Queensland in the same year that Australia also recorded its first Omicron variant case.

Queensland health officials stated that they anticipate a difficult period and there will be more cases.  

Meanwhile in the UK, ‘Professor Lockdown’ Neil Ferguson today refused to rule out another nationwide shutdown to tackle the Omicron super variant as he warned that it will be dominant before Christmas. 

According to the Government scientist, No10 was locked down last spring after his modeling showed that the government might allow stay-at home orders to be reinstated if the mutant strain is able overwhelm the NHS.

He told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: ‘There is a rationale, just epidemiologically, to try and slow this down, to buy us more time principally to get boosters into people’s arms because we do think people who are boosted will have the best level of protection possible, but also to buy us more time to really better characterise the threat.’

After allegations this week of Boris Johnson holding a rule-breaking party at Downing Street in December last year, millions of Britons were prevented from visiting their loved ones, it is not clear how the British public will react.

Concerns are rising about the dangers of festive freedoms following the rise in British Omicron case numbers to 437 yesterday. There is now a highly evolved variant in almost all of the UK’s countries and in nearly every area of England.

But experts warn thousands of cases are flying under the radar because not all samples are analysed for variants and Omicron is estimated to be doubling every two or three days — much faster than when Delta exploded on the scene. 

Eminent epidemiologist Professor Tim Spector claimed infections of the highly evolved variant were doubling every two days. The above graph shows how the number of daily cases of Omicron could breach the 100,000 barrier before New Year's Day, if that pace continues

Professor Tim Spector, an eminent epidemiologist claimed that infections from the evolved Omicron variant were increasing by a factor of two every day. If the current pace of Omicron infections continues, the graph above shows that Omicron cases could surpass 100,000 daily by New Year’s Day.

This is the image that has sparked fear among scientists, prompted ministers to turbocharge the UK's booster vaccine rollout and seen the return of mask mandates in England. It details the new super-mutant Omicron variant's 32 spike protein mutations which experts fear will make it the most infectious and vaccine-resistant strain yet. The graphic, released by the country's top variant monitoring team, also lays bare how it is far more evolved than even the world-dominant Delta strain, with nearly five times as many alterations on the spike

This image has caused fear in scientists and prompted ministers at the UK to accelerate the rollout of booster vaccines. In England, mask mandates have returned. Experts fear that the Omicron supermutant Omicron variant will be the most deadly and vaccine-resistant yet. It contains 32 spike protein mutations. This graphic was released by the nation’s leading variant monitoring team. It also shows how the strain is more advanced than the Delta strain. There are nearly five times the number of modifications to the spike. 

According to some reports No10 already has plans to allow Britons to work remotely and to close offices in order not to bring in Christmas curbs last minute. Sources claim that Johnson was briefed yesterday morning by No10’s chief scientists to prepare him for “sobering” meetings with ministers in preparation for the introduction of tougher curbs.

Ministers are due to review the current suite of anti-Omicron measures — compulsory masks and stricter travel testing — on December 18, which has raised fears that Britons could be stung by last-minute curbs just days before Christmas. 

Professor Ferguson claimed that WFH would not stop the virus, but slow it down. It could also buy time for the country and prolong the doubling period by five to six days. He said, “That may not seem like much, but it could allow us to characterise the virus better and increase population immunity.”

Omicron cases can be found in London, Scotland and elsewhere. London, Britain’s largest transport hub has always been the UK’s focal point for developing new variants. Prof Ferguson said Omicron was seeded at Cop26 in Glasgow, at the beginning of November.

Scientist at Imperial College London said Omicron is concerning but it was not clear what effect it would have on serious disease, deaths, and hospitalisations. In South Africa, the first laboratory study on Omicron found that Omicron-infected people were exposed to two doses Pfizer vaccine. This resulted in forty percent less antibody production.

Although Professor Ferguson claimed that Omicron may reduce effectiveness for vaccines for mild disease by 50%, he stated they still have the potential to protect against serious illness.

A study by Pfizer found that Omicron is resistant to 40 times less antibodies than the other Covid varieties.

Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 may be much less effective against Omicron virus than the previous versions.

According to researchers at the African Health Research Institute, there were forty times fewer antibodies found in Pfizer’s vaccine recipients capable of fighting Omicron than those for other variants.

In the meantime of peer review, the pre-print study was made publicly available Tuesday. It suggests that the vaccine may be less effective than the South Africa strain found last month.

It is not possible to draw any conclusions. Researchers aren’t yet certain how likely Omicron variants will cause infections in people who have been vaccinated.

As of Tuesday night, the new strain has been identified in at least 19 U.S. States and almost 50 countries around the world. It is believed to be the most infectious variant of the virus.