How a Missing Gene Led South African Scientists to Find Omicron

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Bloomberg Quicktake: Now published this video item, entitled “How a Missing Gene Led South African Scientists to Find Omicron” – below is their description.

In early November, laboratories in South Africa’s Gauteng province began picking up something unusual while processing Covid-19 tests: they weren’t able to detect the virus gene that creates the spike protein enabling the pathogen to enter human cells and spread.

Around the same time, doctors in the region saw a sudden flood of patients with fatigue and headaches. The new cases appeared after weeks of calm that ensued following a delta variant-driven third coronavirus wave, which had ripped through Johannesburg and the capital Pretoria in July.

The developments heralded the onset of a wave of infections with the omicron variant in the country. It swiftly became the dominant strain and has driven a new surge in cases. The Nov. 25 announcement of its discovery triggered global panic and a market meltdown, with countries including the U.K. and the U.S. imposing flight bans to and from South Africa. By Tuesday, the mutation had been found in at least 15 countries.

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