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Omicron Variant Spreading Twice as Quickly as Delta in South Africa
A new mathematical analysis strengthens concerns about the effects of the new variant on the pandemic’s course.
Underscoring increasing concerns about Omicron, scientists in South Africa said on Friday that the newest coronavirus variant appeared to spread more than twice as quickly as Delta, which had been considered the most contagious version of the virus.
Omicron’s rapid spread results from a combination of contagiousness and an ability to dodge the body’s immune defenses, the researchers said. But the contribution of each factor is not yet certain.
“We’re not sure what that mixture is,” said Carl Pearson, a mathematical modeler at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine who led the analysis. “It’s possible that it might even be less transmissible than Delta.”