How it was named
WHO recognised the variety B.1.1.529 as a variant of concern and called it Omicron on November 26, 2021. This conclusion was made, based on information that Omicron contains various mutations that could affect how it acts, such as how easily it spreads or how serious the illness it causes.
What we know about the new covid variant
Many aspects of Omicron are being studied by researchers in South Africa and around the world, and the findings will be shared as soon as they are available.
How transmissible is it?
It is unclear whether Omicron is more contagious (simpler to spread from person to person) than other varieties, such as Delta. In areas of South Africa, afflicted by this variation, the number of people testing positive has increased, but epidemiologic studies are planned to determine if this is due to Omicron or other factors.
How severe is it?
It’s unclear whether Omicron infection causes more severe disease than infections caused by other variations, such as Delta. According to preliminary data, hospitalisation rates are rising in South Africa, however this could be due to an increase in the general number of people becoming infected rather than a specific Omicron related illness. As of now, there is no evidence that the symptoms associated with Omicron differ from those associated with other variations.
Vaccine and its effects on the new variant
COVID vaccinations serve an essential role in preventing the spread of coronavirus, and the new strains only complicate their effectiveness.
As of now, the new COVID variant Omicron has been the subject of much concern because it is believed to have 30+ mutations in the spike protein, which may make existing COVID vaccinations less effective.
Given that vaccinations are designed to detect and destroy the virus’s spike proteins, the multiple mutations in spike protein only make it more difficult for vaccines to detect and neutralise new variations, making them less effective. However, more data is still awaiting for the same.
How should people prepare themselves?
People can help reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus by:
- Keeping a physical gap of at least 1 meter between yourself and others
- Using a mask with good fitting
- Increasing ventilation by opening windows
- Avoiding crowded or poorly ventilated areas
- Ensuring clean hands at al times
- Sneezing or coughing into a tissue or bent elbow
- Getting vaccinated
This information is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice. Your doctor should be consulted for any medical advise. Dr. B Lal accepts no responsibility for the contents of this information, despite the fact that every precaution was taken in its development.