Biologist talks Virus Mutations and Omicron Variant
PRESQUE ISLE, Maine (WAGM) -A second case of the Omicron Variant has been detected in the U.S., But, many questions surround the Omicron Variant, and Mutations of the COVID virus. Newssource 8′s Corey Bouchard speaks with a local Biologist to learn about mutations.
Larry Feinstein – Associate Professor of Biology – UMPI " It’s kind of an arms race. As they develop a new capability, we develop a new capability to combat it. It’s just gonna be a constant evolving process.”
Larry Feinstein is a biology professor at the University of Maine at Presque Isle. He says that mutations in virus’ are very common.
”Basically when their dna is replicated or they make a new copy of it, sometimes there can be random errors…and that can cause a change in the virus’ ability”
Most of the changes that occur with virus’ are not that big a deal, but some can be advantageous to the virus…
” The Delta Variant, Theres one DNA base out of 30,000, theres one DNA Base that’s different and the little spike that grabs onto cells as the virus is going by, instead of the spike being like this it made it stick out even more and become more infectious”
One New Variant of concern is Omicron, a mutation first detected in South Africa.
Dr. Nirav Shah – Director, Maine CDC “The Emergence of this new COVID-19 Variant, Omicron, Drew some degree of concern from scientists around the world due to the large constellation of mutations that this particular virus exhibits”
” The thing about the Omicron is it’s an open book, theres the potential for harm and increased infectiousness but we haven’t really seen how it plays out”
Feinstein says it’s too early to tell how well the vaccines will do against the omicron variant. Feinstein adds that with mRNA vaccines, it will be easy to roll out an additional shot.
” However with these mRNA vaccines, its very easy to design new ones so if we need to we can upgrade the vaccines”
While much is not known, Feinstein says this is likely not the last variant we will see with this virus. Corey Bouchard, Newssource 8
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