However, in variants of interest, the changes are significant enough to warrant attention. This could mean that the virus can cause more serious infections, spread more easily, or it can better resist the protection that current vaccines provide. The last one is evident in the flu virus, wherein the vaccine changes year after year to adapt to new mutations.
One interesting thing about Omicron is that the closest strains to it were ones from mid-2020. In most variants, researchers can trace the evolution of the strain continuously over time. This is why the Omicron variant is surprising, since it seemingly came out of nowhere.
Now, to answer the question “Where did Omicron come from?” researchers have a number of theories:
1. It May Have Come from Animals
The first theory is that it could have evolved from an infected animal. COVID-19 can also infect animals, and a sick animal could potentially infect a human. However, this theory is highly unlikely as the genome of Omicron doesn’t show any genetic information from animals. So it’s more likely that it evolved in a human.
2. It Could Have Evolved Under the Radar