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Omicron variant, from Mozambique to Rome, Caserta and Milan: first case in Italy

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From Mozambique passing through Rome, Caserta and Milan. This is the ‘journey’ of the Omicron variant through the first case identified in Italy. It is a 55-year-old man, vaccinated with two doses and with few symptoms. The company manager originally from the Campania province returned from Mozambique in recent days, landing, explains Corsera, in Fiumicino and then stopping in Caserta and then traveling to Milan where, finally, he tested positive for Covid-19 with a genomic sequence traceable to the variant discovered in South Africa and Botswana. Variant B.1.1.529 was sequenced by the Clinical Microbiology, Virology and Bioemergency Diagnostic Laboratory of the Sacco hospital. “The epidemiological investigations were carried out by Ats Milano and the Local Health Authority under the responsibility of the Campania Region. Sequencing has already been scheduled on the samples of the patient’s family contacts who were positive and resident in the Campania region, whose laboratories have been alerted and are already working to obtain genomic results in a short time. At the moment no positive contacts have been identified in Lombardy “, explains the ISS. Read also Five family members of the man, who would show no symptoms, in isolation. “The patient and his family contacts are in good health”, communicates the Higher Institute of Health in a note. WHAT IS THE OMICRON VARIANT AND WHAT DOES IT MEAN: WHAT WE KNOW SO far what is the danger of the new variant? How contagious is it? Does the vaccine hole? Initially identified in South Africa and Botswana, Omicron becomes an unknown internationally. In the absence of data, it is not easy to answer at the moment. The symptoms, according to information from South Africa, do not appear to vary from those produced by the Delta variant. It is premature to talk about vulnerable vaccines, even if Pfizer and Moderna are ready to develop updated versions of their drugs. Omicron’s identikit is outlined by the WHO, which has ‘promoted’ the variant to ‘concern’ status. Variant B.1.1.529 was first reported to WHO from South Africa on 24 November. The epidemiological situation in the country was characterized by three distinct peaks in the reported cases, the last of which was mainly from the Delta variant. In recent weeks, however, “infections have increased dramatically – reads the WHO note – in coinciding with the detection of variant B.1.1.529. The first known confirmed infection from B.1.1.529 was from a sample collected on November 9, 2021 “. The data suggest that “Omicron may have a growth advantage” and therefore be more contagious, “in addition to the aforementioned higher risk of reinfection than other variants of concern.” The African covid variant was detected in just over 80 samples according to the data provided by the experts of the African CDC centers. What is worrying is the presence of more than 30 mutations in the Spike protein region alone, responsible for the entry of the coronavirus Sars-CoV-2 into human cells. “The variant B.1.1.529 shows more mutations in the genome of the virus”, reiterate the experts of the African CDC. “Some have been detected in earlier variants, such as Alpha and Delta, and have been associated with increased transmissibility and immune evasion.” In other words, clues abound about the increased contagiousness. Many of the other mutations identified, however, point out the CDs, are not yet well characterized and have not been identified in other variants currently in circulation. Further investigations are therefore underway to determine the possible impact on the ability of the virus to spread more efficiently, to affect the effectiveness of the vaccine and evade the immune response and the ability to cause more serious or milder diseases. more detailed, it is hypothesized that the variant may be more contagious than the previous ones. “From the first epidemiological data, the Omicron variant would really seem more contagious than the Delta. At the moment, more than 500 sequences have already been made in the laboratories of South Africa, with which we are in constant contact. Epidemiology tells us that it is supplanting the Delta variant. . Certain information, however, will come from molecular data, both as regards contagiousness and as regards the ability of vaccines to protect. And the analyzes are already underway “, explains Massimo Ciccozzi, head of the Unit of Medical Statistics and Epidemiology of the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery of the Campus Bio-Medico of Rome, already activated on the study of the new variant. According to data from South African laboratories “in the country, with the Omicron variant, there is an R0 of 1 , 34. This means that the epidemic is no longer under control. The phenomenon may be linked to the greater contagiousness of the new variant, but it must also be taken into account. three elements such as the very low percentage of vaccination coverage in the country, around 20%, and the scarce use of anti Covid measures, very far from our standards. It is certain, however, that, at the moment, in South Africa, Omicron runs faster than the Delta “. In this variant, adds Ciccozzi,” there are all the mutations of the single variants seen so far. All together on the same Spike protein. And, at least on the epidemiological level, Omicron seems to be racing at the moment. “Tracking therefore assumes greater importance. The Ministry of Health recommends strengthening and monitoring the tracking and sequencing activities in the case of travelers from countries with widespread Omicron variant and their contacts or in cases of outbreaks characterized by a rapid and anomalous increase in cases, also to promptly and scrupulously apply the measures already provided for quarantine and isolation. “Rapid in spreading, but we do not know if it is capable of causing a serious disease. The vaccine, now more than ever, remains fundamental, together with the use of the mask “, says Franco Locatelli, coordinator of the Technical Scientific Committee, in an interview with Corriere della Sera.” It is not clear to date whether this strain will have greater capacity to cause serious illness – explains Locatelli -. But attention must be kept at the highest level and Minister Speranza was the first to do well, followed by the other EU Ministers, to promptly interrupt accesses and flights from the 8 countries that have been hit. ” new variant, “is the crucial question – says Locatelli – The presence of mutations in the regions of the Spike protein recognized by antibodies or by lymphocyte T cells could partially reduce the effectiveness of vaccines. However, only further evaluations will give us an evidence-based answer. “And he recommends” vaccines and caution. The more favorable situation in Italy compared to that of almost all other European countries is due to the large percentage of completely immunized subjects. In the lower-risk age group, that is, between 12 and 59 years, in the last month, 23 of the almost 46 million vaccinated people were hospitalized in intensive care compared to 179 of the 6.5 million unvaccinated “. aged 12, says: “Children must be offered vaccination to protect their health, to encourage their school attendance and to protect social, playful and recreational activities, the deprivation of which has a negative impact on development. The pediatric vaccines will be available a few days before Christmas and we will proceed with a dosage that is equal to one third of that of adults by administering two doses 3 weeks apart “. And he concludes:” The moment is delicate and the invitation, once again, it is for those who have never been vaccinated to have no delay and for those who have already been vaccinated to proceed with the third dose “.

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