Omicron Variant Found for First Time in White-Tailed Deer Through U.S. Scientists’ Studies

White-tailed deer
White-tailed deers at Bear Island Campground in the Big Cypress National Preserve

U.S. scientists conducted research and recently found that some of the white-tailed deer living in the country are actively infected by the Omicron variant of the SARS-CoV-2. This study suggests that the positive deers can be reinfected with the virus as neutralizing antibodies to the SARS-CoV-2 were found in one of them.

The latest research on white-tailed deers

Kurt Vandegrift, associate research professor in Penn State and the lead author of the paper, said that the infected animals are posing the presence of another potential threat. According to, Vandegrift’s research team found last year that up to 80% of white-tailed deer across Iowa tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. The study was the first evidence that any living species could get infected by the virus.

Clinical professor of veterinary and biomedical sciences in Penn State, Suresh Kuchipudi, says that the latest research has highlighted the fact that urgent action needs to be done to avoid the spillback of the virus to humans. Even though it has not been recorded or reported yet, it is still a huge possibility.

He also explained that the longer the virus stays in these animals and the more people it infects, the more likely it is that the virus will change and become resistant to our current vaccines. This could happen because the virus could become resistant to our current vaccines.

The previous research the team had done in Iowa is through examining the lymph nodes sample of the deers killed in hunting but the samples did not show any active infection. With their latest research, the team collected nasal swabs from the 131 individual white-tailed deers living in Staten Island, New York. 19 of those deers are reportedly positive in results.

Omicron variant spreads faster than Delta

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Omicron variant spreads more quickly than COVID-19 and the Delta variant. Anybody who has Omicron infection can spread the virus to other people, even if they have been vaccinated or don’t show signs of the virus.

People who are infected with the Omicron variant can have symptoms that are similar to those of other variants. Having the COVID-19 vaccine, having other health problems, being older, and having had a previous infection can all affect how many symptoms you have and how bad they are.

The Omicron variant may have evolved in an animal host, Stat News says. The idea is that some kind of animal, maybe rodents, got sick with the SARS-CoV-2 virus sometime in the middle of 2020. In this new species, the virus changed a lot on the spike protein before it spread to people again.

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