The South African researcher who pioneered the detection of Omicron believes that the new variant most probably emerged after growing unchecked within the body of an unvaccinated person who also tested positive for HIV.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the scientist had been ready since a long time for novel variants of COVID potentially sweeping South Africa, where a huge proportion of young people are infected with HIV, as well as being unvaccinated.
After testing a lone South African with HIV, who repeatedly tested positive for COVID for slightly more than 7 months, 13 unique mutations were detected from the patient’s samples.
Following the study, research has suggested that while HIV/AIDS patients are not susceptible to severe illness, they may be host to mutations and variants because the virus can possibly survive longer in their bodies due to suppression of their immune systems.
Though the pilot findings were published in the summer, they were largely ignored in the West.
Nevertheless, the Omicron strain is still relatively unknown, and its link with HIV is far from definite. It is to be hoped that given the South African’s wish to pursue this research further, we will get to know in no uncertain terms about Omicron as well as its relationship to HIV.