Mouse may have served as Omicron host

Researchers believe a mouse may have served as an intermediate host for the Omicron variant. Credit: J.N. Stuart

Researchers have found that the Omicron variant of the virus that causes COVID-19 may have come through a mouse as an intermediate host. “These findings suggest that researchers should focus on SARS-CoV-2 variants isolated from wild animals, especially rodents,” said Jianguo Xu from the National Institute for Communicable Diseases Control and Prevention China, who led the study published in Biosafety and Biosecurity.

The Omicron variant has resulted in a spike in COVID-19 occurrences around the world. The recent study suggests the virus evolved in an animal since mid-2020 before it was transmitted back to humans. Omicron’s mutation profile shows the variant adapted to infect the cells of mice.

“If Omicron is determined to have been derived from mice, the implications of it circulating among non-human hosts will pose new challenges in the prevention and control of the epidemic,” Xu said.

Read the study in Biosafety and Biosecurity