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What are the difference between Omicron variant of COVID & Omicron like strain?

Know the difference between Omicron variant of COVID and the Omicron like strain, It's official — the Omicron COVID-19 variant has arrived in Queensland. The wildcard variant has already been detected in several Australian states and more than 30 countries and has scientists around the world rushing to understand more. Now it's been detected for the first time in Queensland, heralding what authorities say is just the beginning of the state's fight against the pandemic.

How did Omicron get into Queensland?

The two cases were detected in Queensland after a Nigerian man who had flown from Sydney to Cairns tested positive to the new variant while in hotel quarantine. Then on Saturday, a South African man tested positive to the Omicron COVID variant in hotel quarantine in Brisbane. But further genome sequencing by a team of scientists has revealed the man had caught a slightly different sub-lineage of the Omicron variant, known as Omicron-like. Authorities say both men are "well" and are recovering in hospitals in Cairns and Brisbane.

How were the different Omicron strains discovered?

A team of Queensland scientists known as the forensic scientific services conducted extensive testing on the South African man. This resulted in the international committee identifying the Omicron-like strain and reclassifying the main Omicron variant. "They [the team] recognised there are differences between the full and normal Omicron classification, passed it on to the international committee in a really quick time frame," Dr Aitken said.

How effective are current COVID-19 vaccines against Omicron?

Again, it's too early to say. Scientists are working to determine how resistant the new variant might be against current COVID vaccines but for now, we really don't know. Many are optimistic current vaccines will continue to provide some level of protection, especially if you've had your COVID booster shot. UNSW epidemiologist Professor Mary-Louise McLaws told ABC News Breakfast a third dose, or booster shot of the Pfizer vaccine was necessary to be protected against all variants, particularly Omicron. "We absolutely do need booster shots, certainly Delta and now Omicron are going to challenge our immune systems," she said. Dr Aitken said vaccinated Queenslanders would be far less likely to be hospitalised, enter ICU or die if they were to contract the virus, compared to those who remain unvaccinated.

How transmissible is the Omicron variant?

We don't know yet. Want more local news? We offer tailored front pages for local audiences in each state and territory. Find out how to opt in for more Queensland news. The Queenslander sign in the NSW-Queensland border town of Wallangarra in Queensland on October 8, 2020. Epidemiologists around the world have been rushing to understand three questions about Omicron:

  • If it's more infectious or contagious.
  • If it causes more severe disease in people compared to the Delta variant.
  • And if it is immune-evading.
  • Dr Aitken said early signs showed Omicron was less severe but more transmissible than other variants. "But we don't know degrees to which of clinical severity and vaccine effectiveness," he said. Read more

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