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Omicron variant spreads about 70 times faster than delta, expert says

The omicron variant might spread faster than the delta variant, and it might infect another part of the body, study indicates

A researcher works on the omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus.
Sandile Cele, a researcher at the Africa Health Research Institute in Durban, South Africa, works on the omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus Wednesday Dec. 15, 2021. The omicron variant of the novel coronavirus might spread close to 70 times faster than the delta variant, according to a new lab study.
Jerome Delay, Associated Press

The omicron variant of the novel coronavirus might spread close to 70 times faster than the delta variant, according to a new lab study.

The study — led by researchers from the LKS Faculty of Medicine at The University of Hong Kong — found that omicron “multiplies 70 times faster than the Delta variant and original SARS-CoV-2 in the human bronchus, which may explain why Omicron may transmit faster between humans than previous variants.”

  • The study also said the variant causes fewer infections in the lung.
  • The bronchus is the two large tubes that carry air from your windpipe to your lungs, meaning the virus might be more centralized in your throat, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

Muge Cevik, an infectious diseases expert at the University of St. Andrews in Edinburgh, Scotland, said the new lab study showed the omicron variant can spread faster than delta.

  • “Very interesting analyses about the virology of #Omicron, which may explain the faster spread of this variant,” she tweeted.
  • “According to a new lab study, Omicron infects & multiplies ~70x faster than the Delta variant and the wild type SARS-CoV-2 in the human bronchus, but not in the lung,” she added.

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Tuesday that the omicron variant is spreading faster than previous variants and people should be aware of it, according to CNN.

  • “The reality is that Omicron is probably in most countries, even if it hasn’t been detected yet,” he said.