Italian scientists have unveiled the world's first image of the spike protein (also known as protein S) of the new COVID-19 omicron strain.
While the delta strain has 18 mutated amino acid residues, the new variant has 43.
"It is clear that the omicron variant has many more mutations than the delta variant (already very diverse in itself)," explained an Italian specialist from Bambino Gesù hospital in Rome and the Vatican.
"They are mainly concentrated in the region of the protein that interacts with human cells," the expert added.
This means that the virus has adapted to the humans.
Previously, Botswana and South Africa reported the emergence of a new strain of COVID-19, containing 32 mutations in protein S.
According to the researchers, many of them indicate that this variant is highly transmissible and resistant to vaccines, but it is too early to draw definitive conclusions.
The World Health Organization declared that B.1.1.529 is "of concern" and named it "omicron" in honor of the fifteenth letter of the Greek alphabet.