Omicron is by far the most heavily mutated variant of COVID-19 to date, and on course to dethrone delta as the dominant strain.
Since the strain was first detected in Korea on Dec. 1, the variant has been found in over 160 cases here. Of them, 39 have recent travel history and the rest are close or indirect contacts. Community transmission, public health authorities say, is probably already underway.
To understand the implications of the newest variant, too nascent to be able to grasp the full extent of its abilities, it’s important to first understand the role the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing COVID-19, plays during an infection.