Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, numerous variants of SARS-CoV-2 have been reported worldwide. The advent of variants of concern (VOCs) raises severe concerns amid the serious containment efforts against COVID-19 that include physical measures, pharmacological repurposing, immunization, and genomic/community surveillance. Omicron variant (B.1.1.529) has been identified as a highly modified, contagious, and crucial variant among the five VOCs of SARS-CoV-2. The increased affinity of the spike protein (S-protein), and host receptor, angiotensin converting enzyme-2 (ACE-2), due to a higher number of mutations in the receptor-binding domain (RBD) of the S-protein has been proposed as the primary reason for the decreased efficacy of majorly available vaccines against the Omicron variant and the increased transmissible nature of the Omicron variant. Because of its significant competitive advantage, the Omicron variant and its sublineages swiftly surpassed other variants to become the dominant circulating lineages in a number of nations. The Omicron variant has been identified as a prevalent strain in the United Kingdom and South Africa. Furthermore, the emergence of recombinant variants through the conjunction of the Omicron variant with other variants or by the mixing of the Omicron variant’s sublineages/subvariants poses a major threat to humanity. This raises various issues and hazards regarding the Omicron variant and its sublineages, such as an Omicron variant breakout in susceptible populations among fully vaccinated persons. As a result, understanding the features and genetic implications of this variant is crucial. Hence, we explained in depth the evolution and features of the Omicron variant and analyzed the repercussions of spike mutations on infectiousness, dissemination ability, viral entry mechanism, and immune evasion. We also presented a viewpoint on feasible strategies for precluding and counteracting any future catastrophic emergence and spread of the omicron variant and its sublineages that could result in a detrimental wave of COVID-19 cases.

Fuente: Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy