New study on animals suggests omicron does not cause as much damage to lungs

A new study released this week suggested that the COVID-19 omicron variant has less of an impact on lungs when compared to previous strains.

The study, conducted by both U.S. and Japanese scientists and published by In Review, observed omicron’s effect on hamsters and mice. Researchers observed “less infection” in the bronchial cells of hamsters when compared to infections caused by the delta variant.

They also found a smaller amount of the virus in the noses of the more than 100 mice that were involved in the study. Researchers noted that the lower amount of the virus was “unexpected” given the high degree of mutations that omicron has compared to previous strains.

“Moreover, the attenuation in hamsters also was surprising, given that all prior SARS-CoV-2 variants have replicated relatively equivalently and to high levels in this animal,” the researchers wrote.

Despite the unexpected results, researchers acknowledged that their findings appeared to fall in line with other studies that have suggested that omicron, while significantly more transmissible, results in a milder illness.

The researchers acknowledged that results of the study were limited due to the use of hamsters and mice and more data would be needed to corroborate the data.

Early studies on the omicron variant came out this month, with many suggesting that the new strain caused milder illness than previous waves.

However, researchers have noted that these results are likely affected by the relatively high rate of immunity many people have gained either through vaccination or prior infection.

Tags Coronaviridae Hamster SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant Viruses Zoonoses

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