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Cornell expert explains how Omicron ‘locks’ onto cells more easily, making it far more transmissible

What makes the Omicron strain of COVID-19 so contagious?

Cynthia Leifer, a professor of immunology at Cornell University, tells CNYCentral that it’s the transmissibility.

That’s seen in the daily case numbers, which have hit records in New York several times over the last two weeks.


“We’re really talking about if one person is infected, then they breathe around in a group of people, how many of those people would get infected?,” Leifer told CNYCentral. “It’s secondary cases [that emerge] from the primary case.”

This strain is better at locking into cells, infecting everyone – even vaccinated folks more easily.

“Now when we are talking about Omicron, pretty much everybody in the room with that infected person is probably going to test positive at some point.”

Another major change with this variant – symptoms and positive tests come faster.



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