Hopefully it turns out that Black Friday meant the purveyors of products-at-a-discount ended up in the black, and not that the B.1.1.529 variant (Omicron) had started a really bad turn in the pandemic. (We will know in about two weeks if this ‘variant of concern’ can evade the antibodies produced by the current vaccines*).
Angelique Coetzee, chairperson of the South African Medical Association, says in The Guardian newspaper: ‘It’s all speculation at this stage. It may be it’s highly transmissible, but so far the cases we are seeing are extremely mild’.
*From the New York Times: The B.1.1.529 variant has a “very unusual constellation of mutations,” with more than 30 mutations in the spike protein alone, Mr. de Oliveira (director of the KwaZulu-Natal Research and Innovation Sequencing Platform, in South Africa) said. The spike protein is the chief target of antibodies that the immune system produces to fight a coronavirus infection. So many mutations raised concerns that Omicron’s spike might be able to evade antibodies produced by either a previous infection or a vaccine.