- Sputnik International, 1920
Omicron COVID Strain
The new COVID variant was initially detected in South Africa and Botswana and sparked major concerns due to its high number of mutations (32). The WHO dubbed the strain Omicron and warned it may prove to be more transmissible and dangerous than other coronavirus variants.

Scientists at Hong Kong University First in Asia to Isolate Omicron Coronavirus Variant

© REUTERS / DADO RUVICSyringes with needles are seen in front of a displayed stock graph and words "Omicron SARS-CoV-2" in this illustration taken, November 27, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration
Syringes with needles are seen in front of a displayed stock graph and words Omicron SARS-CoV-2 in this illustration taken, November 27, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration - Sputnik International, 1920, 01.12.2021
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MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Scientists at the University of Hong Kong (HKU) have become the first in Asia to succeed in isolating the new Omicron coronavirus variant from clinical samples, the university said.
"Researchers at the Department of Microbiology at The University of Hong Kong have succeeded in the isolation of SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant from clinical specimens. This is the first known research team in Asia that has succeeded in isolating the Omicron variant," the HKU said in a statement.
Following the isolation of the variant, scientists will now be able to develop vaccines against Omicron, which was classified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a variant of concern.
Scientists at HKU succeeded in isolating the variant on Monday night, four days after the first two Omicron cases were confirmed in Hong Kong on November 25. The team of researchers is now conducting experiments on the variant's transmissibility, immune evasion capability and pathogenicity.
So far, Hong Kong has recorded three Omicron cases.
The new coronavirus variant was first reported to the WHO by South Africa last week. According to the WHO, its high number of mutations in spike protein could make it more transmissible and dangerous than all previous strains.
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