In late November, Omicron is a new SARs-Cov-2 variant, first identified in South Africa. WHO labeled it as a ‘varient of concern’ (VOC). A growing detected cases had been reported in countries including Hong Kong, Belgium, Israel, Germany, the United Kingdom, and Australia.
Scientists suggest that this new Omicron variant can be more transmissible than the highly transmissible Delta virus. The variants of COVID are not unusual. The more the virus spreads more likely it is to mutate. Mutation arises when the virus multiplies after infecting a human host.
What does WHO say on the Omicron variant?
On November 26, 2021, WHO designated the Omicron variant or B.1.1.529 as a variant of concern. This decision was based on the evidence of several mutations that impact how it behaves. For example, how easily it spreads or the severity of illness, it can cause.
Scientists in South Africa and other countries are conducting studies to understand many aspects of Omicron.
It is still unclear whether the Omicron is more transmissible or not in compassion to other strains like the Delta. The number of infected people from this virus is rising in the areas of South Africa. But researches are in progress to find that it is because of the virus or other factors.
It is not clear whether the infection from Omicron can cause severe diseases than the other variants. Some data suggest a massive increase in the number of hospitalizations in South Africa. Still, it is not clear that this is due to the increase in the infected people from previous strains or the specific Omicron variant.
How can you indicate symptoms of the Omicron variant?
According to some studies, symptoms of the Omicron are much similar to other strains of COVID. But this variant does not affect the smell or taste of the people like previous variants. Some common symptoms may include headache, fever, scratchy throat, congestion, runny nose, or body pain.
Specific studies are still going on every mutation of the Omicron variant.
Omicron vs. Delta other strain of COVID-19
Both Delta and Omicron are the variant of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. According to the studies, every time this virus enters a new host, it multiplies into millions. That allows it to mutate. When this happens occasionally, you get a new variant.
Most variants are like dead-end mutations, which means they don’t end up doing much. But once it gets the series of mutations, the characteristics of the virus change.
Some researches tell that Delta is twice more contagious than the previous strains of COVID. According to CDC, it can cause severe illnesses than the other previous variants to unvaccinated people.
As per reports of WHO, the Omicron variant has a large number of mutations and seems more likely to infect people infected with COVID-19. It is still unclear whether the Omicron variant is contagious as Delta or even more.
Effectiveness of SARS-Cov-2 infection
Some primary evidence from WHO suggests that there can be a high risk of infection to the people who COVID-19 previously infected compared to other variants.
Effectiveness of RT-PCR test
The widely used test RT-PCR continues to detect the infection, including the infection from the Omicron like the other variants. According to WHO, Omicron is identified by a unique detection of the S gene, which makes it convenient to locate. So, the reliability of the RT-PCR test is much.
Effectiveness of Vaccines
Scientists are still working to understand the impact and potential of the Omicron virus on the existing countermeasures. Current vaccines reduce severe disease and deaths in the current variant and previous strains such as Delta.
Which age group is at the high risk from the Omicron variant?
From the current data and reports from South Africa, young children are at a high risk of infection. But the scientists have not confirmed the link between Omicron and the high admission of infants.
South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Disease report states that 52 infants under age 2 were among 452 COVID patients admitted till late November.
How is the USA dealing with the Omicron variant?
The omicron variant began to circulate in California, but even it reached the city yet. Omicron is the fourth variant to hit the USA after lota, alpha, and Delta. The country already witnessed the rising cases from the previous three variants this year.
Each variant increased the concern of worry. But now, the covid virus is diminishing its threat after the first wave. This year saw fewer deaths and infections than the previous year. The USA owes a high rate of vaccination approx. 77% of every age group got vaccinated with at least one dose. Other factors like wearing masks, intense surveillance, international travel restrictions helped the USA protect itself from the virus.
How is the world dealing with this menace?
As you already know that the Omicron is more transmissible than other strains. So it is essential to take precautionary measures to protect from this new strain.
- Get yourself vaccinated if you haven’t
- limit your national and international travel plans
- maintain social distancing
- wear a mask when you go outside
- Do not ignore any symptoms of illness
- keep yourself and your surrounding hygenic
All the countries worldwide are increasing their surveillance for the new strain. Many countries started imposing restrictions on international flights and advising to limit the travel plans. If traveling, they should take proper precautions and 14 days of isolation.