Omicron variant replicates better in children’s noses, says study

Researchers at the University of Queensland in Australia found that the Omicron variant of the coronavirus replicates better in children’s nose cells than previous strains.

The discovery, published this week in the scientific journal PLOS Biologyhelps explain why the number of pediatric infections was higher during the current wave of the pandemic compared to previous ones.

Scientists evaluated the behavior of three virus variants – the original, Delta and Omicron – in contact with primary nasal epithelial cells (NECs) from 23 children and 15 healthy adults in laboratory tests.

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They found that the original virus replicates at significantly lower levels in the cells lining children’s noses compared to those of adults. However, this behavior changed with Ômicron.

The antiviral defenses present in children’s noses are less pronounced for Omicron, according to the researchers. The variant also reproduced more easily in these cells compared to Delta and the original version of the virus, increasing the risk of infection.

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