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Is Omicron a More Contagious SARS?
Will sweep the world in January
Remember the old SARS from 2003? A terrible disease with 11% fatality rate, but fortunately not very contagious?
Well, for mysterious reasons, Omicron has genetic and molecular features, and has specific symptoms, very similar to that old SARS and is possibly more similar to SARS than to Covid19. The only obvious difference is that Omicron is more contagious and will, hopefully, be milder than the old SARS-COV-1.
Before I go on much further, I would like to give credit to Twitter users @Harvard2H and @Overshoooot. Their incredible thoughts and a very productive discussion from last night, way past midnight, led me to the idea of writing this article. The first person mentioned, Dan Sirotkin, has a substack also.
Sars-COV1 was a coronavirus illness, that infected only 8,000 people, but scared the world due to its high case fatality rate of about 11%. SARS had the following symptoms:
Compare this with Omicron symptoms:
The “Omicron fatigue” is very frequently described as overwhelming and very unusual.
So was the SARS fatigue.
An odd article on bioRxiv reports:
Three thoughts in this article deserve attention:
Omicron’s receptor binding is more like the original SARS-Cov1 than Covid19.
This receptor binding has higher transmissibility (which we know)
And most importantly, Omicron delays danger signals, looking mild but possibly not being mild at all.
None of this means Omicron is as deadly as SARS. It is not the same exact thing as SARS, it just has similarities to SARS that we should not overlook. We are rapidly getting enough data to figure out severity of Omicron.
And it does not seem to be “mild”.
Here’s my own article comparing severity of Omicron, with severity of Delta, using apple-to-apples comparison in South Africa. In South Africa, Omicron caused 9.6% hospitalization rate, compared to 11.4% hospitalization rate for Delta.
Note that Omicron was supposedly infecting a much more resilient population than Delta was, as now South Africa is about 60% Covid recovered with natural immunity. So this 9.6% hospitalization rate, compared to 11.44% rate for Delta, is not very favorable towards the “Omicron is mild” hypothesis.
But anyway, mild or not, similarities between Omicron and SARS should not be overlooked.
If SARS-COV2 evolved from SARS-COV1 under unnatural (lab) conditions, it is not super difficult to imagine that in some ways, SARS-COV2 will regress back closer to its past form SARS-COV1. This regression may be called Omicron.
It is especially concerning that the most recent progenitor of Omicron is a long-extinct variant extremely close to the original Wuhan virus.
Seen this way, Omicron is not a progression of Covid19, it is REGRESSION to SARS — although much more infectious, and, hopefully, less deadly than the original SARS.
This article by Dan Sirotkin was discussing a possibility of this happening — and was written in this year on April Fools Day.
Reversion of Live Attenuated Vaccines to Original
HarvardToBigHouse wrote a piece “A grin without a cat” that further discussed LAV. LAV is Live Attenuated Vaccine, which is a type of vaccine with a virus that does not have a harmful effect, but is similar to the original pathogen. He explains how the Live Polio Vaccine sometimes reverts and kills people with actual polio.
Sars-Cov2 reverting to Sars-Cov1 may be a similar story.