Caution urged over claims of new Omicron variant
A disease authority in Jiangsu Province claims there is a new variant of Omicron BA.1.1, though a COVID-19 expert has urged caution.
The authority, Suzhou Center for Disease Control and Prevention, also said it needs to conduct further analysis and comparison before obtaining more conclusive information.
The findings are based on the failure to come across "highly homologous genetic sequences" in multiple COVID-19 gene databanks.
A virologist from a national database platform, in an interview with the Science and Technology Daily newspaper, dismissed the description of "highly homologous sequence" saying it's unscientific, for a sequence can only be either homologous or not.
What is really intended by the local disease control authority might be "highly similar sequence."
While a 99.9 percent or 99 percent similarity could be either viewed as "highly," in genetic sequencing they could mean a difference of more than 200 nucleotides.
The expert also said that differences in genetic sequence do not necessarily mean commensurate changes in infectiousness and virulence.