From the past two weeks, our celebration of gradually becoming Covid-19 virus-free has come to a halt. With a new variant of the Coronavirus, the doubts, the panic as well as hysteria have again set in. Let us understand how this variant named “Omicron” can affect our lives even after the vaccinations as we have already experienced the deadly second wave of coronavirus infections.
The new Omicron variant:
On 27 November 2021, World Health Organization (WHO) named a new variant of SARS-CoV-2 (Covid-19 Virus) B.1.1.529 as “Omicron” and called it a “Variant of Concern”. It has been declared as a “Variant of concern” along with Alpha, Beta, and Delta variants.
The first case was found in Botswana on November 24, 2021, and was later reported by South Africa.
As per the latest reports of WHO, over 57 countries have reported cases of the Omicron variant which includes countries like the UK, USA, African countries as well as European countries. In the Asian continent as well, the cases have been on the rise with South Korea reporting 7,000 cases a day.
In the African continent, the weekly caseload of the covid-19 continents has been increased by 93%, but research has yet to be conducted to identify whether the omicron variant is behind on these searches globally or not.
Is the Omicron variant dangerous?
The research on the Omicron variant is still going on and is in a nascent stage, so commenting and extracting rigid conclusions from the raw and changing data should not happen. But, as per the reports, we can see the following trends:
- Transmission: Whether the virus is transmissible compared to other variants are not clear, But looking at the cases in the African continent and globally, there are raising questions about the variance having high transmibility rate.
- Severity: Commenting only on the severity of the variant compared to others is still not known but the increasing number of hospitalizations in South Africa is a cause of worry.
India and omicron.
As of now, India records 8,503 new Covid cases, the active case count rises to 94,943. Rajasthan, Karnataka, Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Delhi are the states in which the cases have been found.
In a media briefing, the joint secretary of the union home ministry said
All Omicron related cases are found to have mild symptoms so far…In all such cases in the country and across the world so far, no severe symptom has been noted. WHO has said that its emerging evidence is being studied,”Luv Aggarwal, joint secretary of the union home ministry said
Symptoms of Omicron Variant
According to the doctors of South Africa was who was the first person to spot the virus said that the virus shows extremely mild symptoms.
But the symptoms are not like symptoms of previous strains such as loss of taste or smell. Symptoms associated with this strain are scratchy throat and fatigue and most of the times cases are found to be asymptomatic.
Effect of Omicron
Due to the outbreak of the omicron variant, some of its effects can be seen as:
- Initially the international flights were scheduled to resume from December 15 but now with news of the outbreak of the new variant in the world, India has pushed it’s plans and now the regular flights for commercial and international purposes will not be resuming till 31 January 2022.
- On Friday, 4 December 2021 after hearing the news of new omicron variant, Indian stock markets plunged, both Nifty 50 and Sensex fell by 4%.
Are vaccines effective?
As we know, vaccines are the only superpower that works against these covid-19 viruses. An interesting question is whether the existing vaccines will be effective against this new strain or not.
WHO, said, whether the existing vaccines are perfectly suited for this omicron variant is something which is not known because it is too early. Dr. Samiran Panda, Head, Epidemiology, and Communicable Diseases Division, told, “mRNA vaccines are directed towards spike protein and receptor interaction, so mRNA vaccines need to be tweaked around this change already observed. But not all vaccines are similar, Covishield-Covaxin produces immunity through a different antigen presentation to our system.”
Countries like the USA are now focused on giving their citizens the third dose of booster shot to increase the immunity to doze of new variants of covid 19 virus
In India, a subject expert committee of the covid 19 virus will have a meeting on December 10th on the booster shots in India.
As a responsible citizen, one must not panic and stay alert. One must also refrain from sharing any fake news that can cause mass hysteria. As we must wait for the researchers to come up with some strong facts, we must continue to follow the norms and standard operating procedures laid by the government.
Where the mask, practice social distancing, and keep washing your hands. Thanks for Reading