Because immunocompromised hosts do not produce many antibodies, many viruses remain to spread. And new mutant viruses that are resistant to the antibodies can multiply.
A mutation that allows the virus to evade antibodies is not necessarily beneficial. For example, it can make the mutant virus’s protein unstable so it can’t attach to cells as quickly. But inside a person with a weak immune system, the virus can create a new mutation to stabilize the spike again.
Dr Pond speculates that the same mutations can develop on their own in the same person over and over again, until Omicron develops a mutant protein with just the right combination of mutations to allow it spreads extremely well among healthy people.
“That certainly makes sense,” said Sarah Otto, an evolutionary biologist at the University of British Columbia who was not involved in the study. But she said scientists still need to run experiments to rule out alternative explanations.
For instance, it is possible that 13 mutant mutants do not benefit Omicron at all. Instead, some other spike spike could make Omicron a success, and 13 is just the journey.
Dr Otto said: “I would be cautious in interpreting the data to show that all the previously harmful mutations had adaptive preference.
Dr. Pond also admits that his theory still has some major holes. For example, it’s not clear why, in a chronic infection, Omicron took advantage of the new “bubble” method of getting into cells.
“We just lack the imagination,” said Dr. Pond.
James Lloyd-Smith, a disease ecologist at UCLA who was not involved in the study, said the study shows how difficult it is to reconstruct the evolution of a virus, including one. recently emerged virus. “Nature is definitely doing its part to keep us humble,” he said.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/24/science/omicron-mutations-evolution.html How Omicron’s mutations allowed it to thrive