Scientists from the University of Pennsylvania fear that this situation may lead to further mutation of the coronavirus among animals and its reverse transmission to humans.

Scientists from the University of Pennsylvania have found antibodies to Omicron-a strain of a new type of coronavirus in wild deer, follows from a non-peer-reviewed study published in the bioRxiv electronic library.

Researchers conducted random testing of 131 white-tailed deer in the Staten Island area. According to the results of testing the samples, antibodies to coronavirus were found in 19 animals, genome sequencing of the samples showed that some of them were infected with the Omicron strain.

Scientists fear that this situation may lead to further mutation of the coronavirus among animals and its reverse transmission to humans. “The information we have obtained shows that Omicron can infect white-tailed deer and underlines the urgent need for universal monitoring of susceptible animal species in order to identify ecological distribution networks [of the virus] and better assess the potential risks of reverse transmission to humans,” the study states.

The study was conducted in the period from December 12, 2021 to January 31, 2022, when there was a sharp increase in the incidence of coronavirus in the United States due to the spread of the Omicron strain.