Omicron: What we know about New COVID-19 Strain
The Omicron variant (B.1.1.529), a new coronavirus variant emerged first in South Africa. Right after a few weeks when the scientists in Botswana and South Africa first alerted the world about the emergence of a new COVID-19 variant, researchers started to understand the implications its mutations might impose, which far exceed the number of any previous variant. The 50 genetic changes of the variant Omicron include more than 30 on the spike protein. It is the exposed part of the virus that binds with human cells. Scientists expect these changes to make it more transmissible than the dominant Delta variant, and it is much likely to evade the immune protection given by previous infections or vaccines.
Following the emergence of the new COVID-19 variant, new restrictions and travel bans are imposed in many countries worldwide. Countries are taking action to ensure precautions and early detection.
Spread of Omicron
Even though the detection of the Omicron was first in a sample from South Africa, no one could still figure out where it originated and how it accumulated these many changes.
South Africa was the first country that reports the fourth COVID-19 wave driven by Omicron. It started in Gauteng province including the cities of Pretoria and Johannesburg later it spread nationwide. However, the cases in Gauteng that peaked first are now declining.
Omicron cases are now multiplying fast across the world. The numbers are doubling within as few as two days in governments or places that respond with measures to restrict social mixing. Denmark and The UK have reported the fastest Omicron growth in Europe. One thing to mark is that it is partly a result of them having more thoroughly genomic surveillance systems compared to other countries.
WHO on Omicron
The World Health Organization (WHO) has classified the new Covid-19 variant as the ‘Variant of concern’ (VOC). It is said that the variant has mutations, a few of which are a concern. Preliminary evidence suggests the increased risk of reinfection with this variant, compared to the other VOCs.
How well COVID-19 vaccines will work against Omicron?
The two lines of evidence are confirming virologists’ fears that prior infections and vaccines will be less effective to prevent the cases of Omicron than previous variants. It comes from lab experiments in which scientists expose blood samples to the virus and measure the antibody response.
Early conclusions show that a huge decline in the immunity against the Omicron variant occurs after two Covid-19 vaccine doses, particularly among the people who got double-shot with the Oxford-AstraZeneca. However, the booster dose is helping to restore the most, though not all the protection.
Compare the disease caused by Omicron with the previous variant
The early signs from South Africa have encouraged people infected with Omicron to show milder symptoms compared to Delta patients. Most were asymptomatic, and others suffered from aches, fatigue, and coughs.
But some scientists still warn that it is hard to compare Omicron directly with previous variants. The reason is not only the time lag before the symptoms appear, but also because coronavirus immunity in the population through previous vaccination and infection is different at present.
Symptoms of Omicron
The WHO confirmed that no information suggests the association of Omicron symptoms to be different compared to other variants. The reason is that understanding the Omicron’s severity level, will take days to several weeks.
WHO has urged the countries to enhance surveillance and sequence on circulating SARS-CoV-2 variants, submit metadata and complete genome sequences to publically available databases, and report initial VOC clusters or cases to the organization.
It has also recommended laboratory assessments and field investigations to understand the potential impacts of the VOC on Covid-19 epidemiology, the effectiveness of public health, and social measures along with antibody neutralization.
The cases of Omicron cases are rising slowly but gradually. Given its holiday season, you must try to stay at home the maximum you can. You must also be ready and take all the measures. It is recommended that you purchase OTC medicines and prescription medicines first hand. You can get good discounts on medicines through best rx pharmacy discount card.