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A new study suggests that the surging Omicron variant is less likely to result in hospitalizations because it spares brutal lung damage.

The research was done through human tissues and laboratory animals to analyze how Omicron compares to other COVID-19 variants that have surged over the past year.

According to the study that was done on mice and hamsters, the new variant produces less damage on the lungs, which is an opposite situation to previous COVID variants that would frequently lead to harm on the respiratory system, the human lungs in particular. 

“It’s fair to say that the idea of a disease that manifests itself primarily in the upper respiratory system is emerging,” Roland Eils stated, a computational biologist at the Berlin Institute of Health. 

Although the new variant does not severely harm the lungs, health officials say that this variant has more potential of infecting people who are fully vaccinated or even people that have recently recovered from COVID infections. 

However, the good news that counters the surging number of positive cases throughout the country is that hospitalizations caused by Omicron have only risen mildly, especially among infected people that are fully vaccinated. 

The University of Hong Kong gathered a similar study using 12 lung samples, and researchers came down to almost identical conclusions. Researches at this University found that the new variant spreads at a slower rate than other variants, including Delta. 

Other researchers at the University of Glasgow have also come down to the conclusion that may explain such results. 

Numerous cells in the lungs carry "TMPRSS2" on their exterior, which is a protein that unintentionally allows virus infections to enter the cell. However, a study at the University of Glasgow concludes that the "TMPRSS2" protein has a hard time getting a hold of the Omicron variant compared to Delta. 

Sara Cherry, a virologist at the University of Pennsylvania, is one of many doctors around the world that still ponder the thought of why is the variant less damaging to the lungs, but yet, it's so easy to spread among people infected by the virus. 

"These studies address the question about what may happen in the lungs but don't really address the question of transmissibility," said Cherry. 

As for now, scientists around the world continue to study how the Omicron virus has an independent biological advantage over existing variants, other than its distinguished ability to evade antibodies.  

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