Omicron: How Severe is this Covid Variant?

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India’s Omicron tally is slowly climbing, with seven new cases reported in Maharashtra, nine in Rajasthan, and one in Delhi, bringing the total number of cases in the country to 21. The World Health Organization has recognized the coronavirus strain B.1.1.529, dubbed ‘Omicron,’ as a variation of concern, amidst mounting alarm around the world. Researchers in South Africa and around the world are conducting studies to better understand several features of the Omicron variety, according to the World Health Organization.

This is what we know right now:

Symptoms

Weakness, weariness, headaches, low-grade fever, and throat soreness are all indications of infection.

Transmissibility

It is yet unknown whether Omicron is more transmissible than other variations, such as Delta.

The severity of the illness

Is Omicron infection more severe than infections caused by other variations, such as Delta? This, too, is a mystery. Data suggests that hospitalization rates are rising in South Africa, however, this could be due to an increase in the general number of persons being infected rather than a specific Omicron illness. There is currently no evidence that the symptoms of Omicron are distinct from those of other variations. All COVID-19 variations can cause serious illness or death, especially in the most fragile people, hence prevention is essential.

Vaccination efficacy

Vaccines, notably those against the major circulating form, Delta, are crucial in lowering severe disease and death. Current immunizations are still effective in preventing serious illness and death.

Testing

As we’ve observed with previous variants, commonly used PCR assays continue to detect infection, even infection with Omicron. Other types of tests, such as quick antigen detection tests, are being studied to see if there is any impact.

The efficacy of current treatments

Patients with severe COVID-19 will still benefit from corticosteroids and IL6 receptor blockers. Other therapies will be evaluated to see if they are still effective in light of the Omicron variant’s alterations to portions of the virus.

Omicron is a dangerous virus, the WHO recommends that countries adopt the following steps:

– Improve case surveillance and sequencing

– Share genomic sequences on publicly accessible databases like GISAID; notify WHO about initial cases or clusters.

– Conduct field investigations and assessments to see if Omicron has different transmission or disease features, or if it affects the efficacy of vaccinations, medicines, diagnostics, and other treatments.

– Using a risk analysis and a science-based approach, countries should implement effective public health interventions to minimize COVID-19 circulation generally.

WHO recommended actions to stop the spread 

Individuals can take the following activities to help stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus:

1. Maintain a physical distance of at least one meter between yourself and others.

2. Wear a mask

3. Increase ventilation by opening windows.

4. Avoid crowded or poorly ventilated areas.

5. Always wash your hands.

6. Get vaccinated.

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